The New York Knicks‘ newfound defense beat another victim.
Julius Randle dropped 27 points before getting ejected in the third quarter, and the Knicks still held on to a 112-99 win against a De’Aaron Fox-less Sacramento Kings Sunday for their fourth straight double-digit win.
The Knicks climbed above .500 for the first time in nearly a month, tied for the sixth spot in the bunched-up Eastern Conference with the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks at 14-13.
It all started with Randle and their rejuvenated defense.
With Jalen Brunson hobbling, Randle continued to be the hub of the Knicks’ offense. Randle rattled off 17 points in another hot start as New York pulled away early, 36-22, right in the opening quarter.
And despite Randle’s ejection and Brunson going out in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle, the Knicks held on with their stout defense.
The Kings came to New York, winning 11 of their last 15 games, including a solid defensive effort in Cleveland in a 106-95 win without Fox. But they rammed into the Knicks’ defensive wall.
New York held Sacramento to 39.8 percent shooting and just 10 for 39 from deep.
The Knicks have not allowed more than 31 points in the last 16 quarters.
“I liked the start of the game. I thought we had good intensity and good energy on both sides of the ball and then it got a little choppy. But every time it got choppy, we responded.”Tom Thibodeau postgame via MSG Network
RJ Barrett took over when Randle left with still 3:35 remaining in the third quarter. Barrett scored nine of his 27 points the rest of the way to secure the victory. He also filled up the stats sheet with nine rebounds and season-highs in assists (6), steals (3) and blocks (2) for his most complete game of the season.
Immanuel Quickley also came up big off the bench with 12 points off the bench.
Despite fouling out, Mitchell Robinson nearly finished with a double-double (12 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks).
Brunson had one of his better games lately, with 18 points on 7 of 14 shots. After a hard fall in the first half, the gritty Brunson stayed on the floor until a sprained ankle agonizingly ended his night.
With Brunson possibly out in the foreseeable future, it will be interesting to see how the Knicks will sustain their winning streak on the road, with back-to-back games in Chicago and one in Indiana next week.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo