The New York Knicks wasted Julius Randle’s historic night.
Randle scored a career-high 57 points, the most by a Knicks player since Carmelo Anthony’s franchise record of 62 points in 2014, but they could not stop the shorthanded Minnesota Timberwolves.
Without their top two players Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves used a balanced scoring attack to survive Randle’s big night and carved out a 140-134 victory Monday at Madison Square Garden.
Seven players scored in double figures for Minnesota.
Taurean Prince had the last laugh as he capped his season-high 35 points with the dagger piercing the hearts of Randle and the Knicks.
Prince was a perfect 8 for 8 from behind the arc, but his biggest shot came in the final 10.4 seconds off a baseline drive against Randle that gave the Timberwolves a 139-134 lead. In frustration, Randle threw the ball hard which allowed Mike Conley to seal the game at the line with a technical free throw.
Randle also slammed the advertising board during the game’s final timeout, and his final three-point attempt got blocked.
It was an ugly ending to one of the greatest scoring nights in franchise history.
“It’s a shame to waste a performance like that,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He scored the ball. You couldn’t ask for more. We were careless with the ball.”
The Knicks committed 16 turnovers, two came in the final 87 seconds that allowed the Timberwolves to escape.
Randle fired 26 points in the third quarter, a club record for most points in a quarter, as the Knicks battled back from a 17-point deficit. He had 52 points after three quarters.
The Knicks seemed to have taken control as they even led by five, 129-124, on a Jalen Brunson layup with 4:41 left. It was downhill from there.
Conley, who had 26 points and 11 assists, sparked a Timberwolves 13-2 run.
The veteran point guard hit a floater, and three free throws off an Immanuel Quickley foul that put them back on top, 132-131, with 2:17 left. Prince’s eighth three-pointer padded their lead to 135-131.
Then Randle turned the ball over. Worse, he committed a loose ball foul which led to a pair of Jaden McDaniel’s free throws.
Randle atoned for his mistake with a three-point play that cut Minnesota’s lead to three, 137-134. But he was unable to get hold of the rebound after McDaniel missed a jumper on the other end. Kyle Anderson snatched the offensive rebound off Randle’s hands which led to Prince’s dagger.
The loss drop the Knicks to 42-31 with nine games left. They will return on the road with crucial back-to-back games against the seventh-seed Miami Heat on Wednesday and Orlando Magic on Thursday.
The Heat are three games back of the Knicks and just one game behind the sixth-seed Brooklyn Nets.
The Knicks won their last two meetings against the Heat and could clinch the tie-breaker with a third straight win.
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