Julius Randle Opens up About Knicks’ Game-Turning-Huddle to Tie Series

Julius Randle returned from an ankle injury and played his best game in the NBA playoffs with a near triple-double to help the New York Knicks avert what could have been a disastrous 0-2 hole heading to Miami in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Randle scattered 25 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as the Knicks survived a feisty Heat team without Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro to grind out a 111-105 win on Tuesday night in front of a raucous Madison Square Garden crowd.

“I mean, just stay with it,” Randle said on the MSG Network postgame show on their huddle talk when the Knicks stared at a six-point deficit in the fourth quarter. “You know, no matter what, [in the] playoffs, there’s gonna be ups and downs; it’s gonna be rough. But as long as we stay together, we feel like we’ll give ourselves a chance to win. And that’s what we did.”

“They shot the hell out of the ball, but we stay with it. [We] Tried to get them off the line, and we’re able to get stops in the fourth quarter,” Randle added.

After a Caleb Martin 3-pointer gave the Heat a 93-87 lead with 7:06 left, the Knicks came off a timeout with a 14-3 run to grab the lead and never looked back.

Randle started the run with a feed to Jalen Brunson, who hit a 3-pointer.

Julius Randle as Decoy

Randle played decoy during the pivotal fourth quarter, finding Brunson and Josh Hart, who had 10 points apiece in the crucial stretch.

Brunson exploded for 30 points, 23 in the second half, as he bounced back from a lackluster Game 1. He became the first Knicks player since Carmelo Anthony, who was in attendance, to have a 30-point playoff game at the Garden.

Hart finally found his stroke from the corner in the fourth quarter. His last 3-pointer, which came off a setup from Randle, gave the Knicks a 104-100 cushion with 1:38 left. The Knicks steadied at the free-throw line to finish off the Heat.

“I was telling the guys from the beginning, you know, it’s gonna be a battle,” Randle said. “You know, no matter what, it’s gonna be a battle. And shout out to the guys. Everybody stepped up and did their part.”

Josh Hart and Isaiah Hartenstein Step Up

Two players stepped up big for the Knicks to backstop their top guys.

Hart became the first Knicks player since Walt Frazier in 1972 to record 10+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 9+ assists in a playoff game. On the other hand, Isaiah Hartenstein battled early foul trouble to help the Knicks. His final stats line of three points, nine rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block cannot justify his impact, especially in the fourth quarter.

“In Josh’s case, he did everything,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after the game. “And that’s who he is. So we talked about playmaking ability, the assists, the big threes, the rebounds, the defense, and then I thought Isaiah — those were huge hustle plays he made, and we needed a great screen to free up Jalen [Brunson] in the corner.”

Hartenstein drew Bam Adebayo’s foul while Brunson nailed the 3-pointer that ignited their 14-3 run in the fourth quarter. After hitting the free throw, Brunson continued his explosion with a stepback jumper that tied the game at 93-93.

“So those things are unselfish, and they’re winning plays. And this is how it’s going to be. This is a type of series that it’s hard-fought on every play,” Thibodeau said.


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