The Knicks built and did not wilt and suddenly, they’ve won three in a row.
For the second time in three games, the Knicks led wire to wire as they coasted to a 107-77 win over the Dallas Mavericks for their third consecutive win.
Julius Randle, who has suddenly rediscovered his game, scored 26 points, including 19 in the second half to lead the way. R.J. Barrett scored 18 points and added 7 rebounds. The third year Knick has been getting to the line and cashing in as he was four of five and has hit 29 of 34 free throws in his last five games.
Alec Burks had 15 points with 11 rebounds, while Immanuel Quickley continued his good stretch of basketball. The second-year guard scored only 9 points but he had a team high 6 assists, 6 rebounds and no turnovers in 31 minutes and was a +28.
The win snapped the Mavs five game win streak while the Knicks (28-38) won their fifth in a row in Dallas and swept the season series. Atlanta lost, so the Knicks pulled within 3½ of the Hawks for the 10th and final play in spot with 16 to play.
The Knicks dominated the game from the opening tip to the final buzzer. After outscoring Dallas, 31-17 in the first quarter, the Knicks duplicated that with 30 more points and an impressive defense for a 61-34 lead at halftime. “That was probably our best defensive performance of the year,” Randle said after the game.
Considering what’s gone on this season, blowing the lead had to be in the back of your mind if you were wearing a Knick uniform or a Knick fan who was watching the game on TV. Dallas made their move and with less than three minutes left in the third quarter, a Luka Doncic’ three cut the Knicks lead to 74-60.
Coach Tom Thibodeau had a potential collapse on his mind. “With a guy like Doncic, ten points in a minute, twelve points in a minute is nothing so if you let your guard down, a couple of bad possesions, turnover, bad shots.” said Thibodeau. “They knock two or three-3’s in, then they start to get hope. You’re seeing it all the time. It’s not just with us, but big leads are dissapating very quickly all over the league.”
In past games, the Knicks would begin to collapse, but not this night as they met the challenge of holding off the Mavericks.
Randle, who also had 8 rebounds and five assists in one of his best all around games, finished with a strong move to the hoop to make it 76-60. On the ensuing possesion, Dallas committed an offensive foul, Randle made another bucket to boost the lead back to 18. “I’m just gonna get to the rim, use my size, my speed, get to the rim. If they collapse, like earlier in the game, kick it out.,” Randle said.
The Knicks played great defense all night long, including the fourth quarter when the Mavericks did not score their first field goal of the quarter until there was 7:30 left. In the first half, Dallas was 0 for t19 from three until Spencer Dinwiddie canned their first three with less than :50 seconds left in the first half.
Former Knick Reggie Bullock was 0 for 8 from three and the Mavericks set a franchise record as they missed 38 off 44 from beyond the arc. Doncic scored 31 points for the Mavericks, who came in red hot, having won 11 of their previous 13 games.
Randle, who is from Dallas, has always played well in his home town. In his last seven games when he’s had a chance to sleep in his “own bed,” Randle is averaging over 27 PPG and just under 9 rebounds a game. “Playing in front of my mom, sister, obviously my wife and sons were here. It’s fun playing in front of family, like I always want to give them a good show,” Randle said.
Knicks are now 3-2 on this seven game road trip and with the way they’ve played the past few games, you wonder where this was while they were losing 17 of 20 to put themselves in this position.
“When we came back from the break, the Miami game, the two Philly games, the Phoenix game, each game I thought we played really well,” Thibodeau said. “We didn’t have a whole lot to show for it, but I thought we were playing good basketball. Now we’re starting to scratch out the wins.”