Sports

Knicks uses a balanced attack to rip the Mavericks apart, reaching 0.500

The Knicks won a match against a strong, hot team, and Julius Randle won some fans back.

It was a near-perfect night in the park, as the Knicks started the second half of their schedule 82 games with a 108-85 defeat to the Christapps Porsings Mavericks. Dallas’ winning streak was cut short in five games, and the Knicks returned to the 0.500 mark at 21-21 for the first time since Dec. 7.

“I don’t look at it – I look at it like we play good basketball,” said coach Tom Tibodo. “I hope we are not satisfied with that. There are long ways to go and we have to keep fighting.”

After two days of a shy two-point struggle when he was harassed by the home crowd, Randle looked more like him at roaring to the basket and finishing with 17 points in 35 minutes.

It wasn’t perfect, as Randle hit 6 of 17 from the field – 1 of 3 from a 3-point ground – and took 10 rebounds with eight assists.

RJ Barrett, who scored 32 points, hit a shot at Moses Brown during the Knicks’ 108-85 win over the Mavericks.
New York Post: Charles Wenselberg

RJ Barrett was the biggest star, adding 32 points for his second consecutive game – the youngest player in Knicks history to score 30 consecutive points. Barrett was 13 of 22 from the field – 4 of 7 from beyond the arc.

But better yet, all five of the Knicks’ starters hit double digits—something they haven’t done since opening night.

Mitchell Robinson slams House One during the Knicks win.
Mitchell Robinson slams House One during the Knicks win.
Getty Images

“I thought our starters were great,” Tibodo said. “This could be the best game of the year for our juniors. They played hard and played well. Just their aggressiveness attacking the basket, downhill, moving the ball and an extra pass.”

The starting unit was a dirty eye for most of the first part of the season.

“It was our best win in a while,” said Yvan Fournier. “We had a goal, and it was really fun to play.”

Randall was not made available for comment after the match. Tibodo said he spoke to Randall about the fan controversy, but admitted he didn’t have to.

“You talk constantly to Julius, you talk to the team every single day,” Tibodo said. “But Julius is a professional. He has gone through the ups and downs in this league for a long time. So he knows where he is in the league, and he knows what he has to do.”

Barrett punctuated another big night with a reverse dunk with both hands in the fourth quarter that followed his bout of the match before.

Randle, who gave Knicks fans a thumbs down last Thursday, was a total hit and failed to acknowledge the cheers from the fans on Wednesday. Fans have chanted Barrett’s name on multiple occasions.

“He sure was aggressive,” Barrett said of Randall. “He is a huge guy that you want to make going down the hill. It was great to see him there.”

Starting players Evan Fournier (13 points), Alec Borks (10 points), Mitchell Robinson (19 points, 9 out of 10 from the field, nine rebounds) were all double digits. Four of the five were in a double by break.

“Five guys in double digits, it’s a great way to win,” Barrett said.

Missing for too long on his first try – 3 pointers – then Randall started rolling. Scored on three consecutive holdings – two strong movers and a 3.

Although he heard scattered boos during pre-game introductions, he only got the cheer when shots landed and played in his usual aggressive manner, rather than dropping the ball to his teammate in the ocean as he did Monday against San Antonio.

Julius Randle leads Dorian Finney Smith during the Knicks win.
Julius Randle leads Dorian Finney Smith during the Knicks win.
New York Post: Charles Wenselberg

But Barrett was the real star and seemed unstoppable for more than a week, with his forays into the basket and the improved jump.

“When he scores in the three levels, he’s less predictable,” Fournier said. ‘He thinks less. He sure seems to be thinking at all and letting his game do the talking’.

Porzingis, the former Knicks lottery pick whose trade eventually led to Randle’s signing, missed the match with COVID-19. Dallas coach Jason Kidd was also out due to protocols, and the Mavs were led by assistant Sean Sweeney.

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