Julius Couldn’t Seize-‘er, Knicks Lose to Hot Shooting T-Wolves

AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

Julius couldn’t seize-’er.

Julius Randle set a career high with 57 points, but a number of costly mistakes down the stretch allowed the short handed Minnesota Timberwolves to walk away with a 140-134 win over the Knicks at the Garden last night.

The Timberwolves, who were without injured star players Karl Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, put on an incredible display of shooting, led by Taurean Prince’s jaw dropping clinic of offensive efficiency. The 7th year forward scored 35 points and was 12 for 13 from the floor and 8 for 8 from three, which is tied for second in NBA single game history for the most threes made without a miss. (Former Knick Latrell Sprewell was 9 for 9 from three in a 2003 game at MSG against the Clippers, tying him with Ben Gordon for the most all time in a single game. Gordon did it twice)

Minnesota shot 61% for the game, including 14 for 24 (58%) from beyond the arc but they were also 24 of 32 from the free throw line. All those attempts came as a result of some bad fouls by the Knicks, who didn’t have a bad shooting night themselves (57%, 50% from three) but also gave up 19 points on 16 turnovers.

As usual, Brunson held himself accountable after a loss. “It’s frustrating, you gotta give them credit. They didn’t miss, but we didn’t make ‘em miss. Offense was not a problem, defensively, I was terrible. I gotta do better,” he said.

Randle was a one man show when he set a Knicks franchise record for a single quarter with 26 points in the third, but his historic night was tarnished by costly mistakes.

After Jalen Brunson’s short jumper put the Knicks up 131-129, Immanuel Quickley, who had a good game, inexplicably fouled Mike Conley who was beyond the arc. Conley made all three free throws to give the T-Wolves a 132-131 lead with 2:17 left and they never looked back.

Brunson missed a driving lay up and Prince answered with a three that proved to be the dagger as Minnesota took a 135-131 lead with less than two minutes left.

Knicks had one more chance to pull this one out.

With the T-Wolves leading 137-131, Randle made two free throws with a little over 42 seconds left to make it a three point game. On the ensuing possesion, it appeared that Jaden McDaniels pushed off on Quickley, but he took the shot and missed. The Knicks failed to get the ball as Kyle Anderson bested Randle and grabbed the biggest offensive rebound of the game. Prince capped off the possession with a lay up to go up five as Randle was called for a technical foul.

I was frustrated at myself. He [Anderson] made a great play, a winning play. I’ve got to be able to come up with those rebounds down the stretch for our team and I didn’t, so I was frustrated at myself,” Randle said. “Down three, it’s my job to come up with that rebound. 14 seconds left, we do that, we have a chance to win the game, or not win the game but at least tie the game, so I didn’t get the job done.”

Brunson had a double-double with 23 points and 10 assists. Quickley scored 19 points off the bench but he missed his last four shots and committed the foul that was arguably the turning point.

Conley had 14 points and 11 assists and made some clutch plays in the fourth quarter. McDaniels scored 18 points and Rudy Gobert added 16 points and was a presence in the middle as Minnesota went with a big lineup that produced 68 points in the paint.

They had their way, we got a big hole, we fought to get out of it and then came up short at the end, but we were playing with fire the whole game,” Coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Give up 14-threes, 68 points in the paint, 32 free throws, allowed 60%. We scored the ball fine but it’s hard to win like that.”

Both teams came out firing in the first quarter but Minnesota, literally could not miss as they hit their first 10 shots and took a 28-21 lead.

Despite shooting 60% in the first quarter, the Knicks trailed 42-32. It was the most points that the Knicks have given up in the first quarter this season as the T-Wolves shot 73%. “Not very good. 42 points first quarter, they got going,said Thibodeau. “Good offensive team, hard to shut ‘em off once they get going like that. They’re a good first quarter team, we talked about that going into the game and they got everything.”

It was more of the same in the second quarter but Randle scored the Knicks’ final eight points to give him 26 at halftime, as they trailed 79-70 after 24 minutes.

Thanks to Randle, the third quarter became one of the most memorable in Knicks’ history.

The All Star forward’s previous career high was 46 points but he broke his personal mark with a three pointer that cut Minnesota’s lead to 99-98 with a little over three and a half minutes left in the third quarter.

Randle broke Carmelo Anthony’s franchise record of 25 points in a single quarter when he hit a free throw with two seconds left and the Knicks trailed 109-108 after three.

Randle’s final points came on an “and-1” with 42 seconds left that made it a three point deficit but Anderson’s offensive rebound off the missed shot demoralized the Knicks who dejectedly left the court.

They didn’t feel our presence from the beginning,” Randle said. “We gave ‘em confidence, a team like that, that can really score the ball, you give them confidence early, they’re gonna stick around.”

Randle’shot 19 of 29 from the floor and 8 of 14 from three. His career high tied Richie Guerin for the third best single game point total in franchise history behind 60 from Bernard King on Christmas Day, 1984 and Anthony’s record setting 62 against Charlotte in January, 2014.

He [Randle] played unbelievable,” Brunson said. “We just gotta be better as a team to help him make that career night feel like something special. When you lose, it kinda trumps all the feeling out of everything.”


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