Wednesday, February 1 2023
Julius Randle fighting for a loose ball against Denver

Julius Randle fighting for a loose ball against Denver

The Knicks pulled out a gutsy, 106-103, win over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night, completing a challenging back-to-back situation on the road with a pair of victories.

And while the Knicks easily could have folded up shop when they faced a double-digit, fourth-quarter deficit, Julius Randle simply wouldn’t allow it.

Randle finished the game with a season-high 34 points (24 in the first half) to go along with 11 rebounds, four steals, and four assists.

“We knew it would be a challenge coming in with the back-to-back,” Tom Thibodeau said after the game. “I thought the way Julius started game gave us confidence that we were going to play well, and then the way he finished it – his hustle, his defense was unbelievable. So, gutty win. A lot of guys stepped up and played well.”

And while Randle led the charge early, his signature play came late in the fourth quarter. After the Knicks had erased what was a 10-point deficit earlier in the quarter and led by one point with just under three minutes to play, Randle went all-out on the defensive end, deflecting a ball into the backcourt and diving for the loose ball before finding Jalen Brunson for an easy dunk and a three-point lead.

“We talk about that all the time, the hustle plays, and oftentimes that’s the difference between winning and losing – first to the floor, deflections, hustle, dive headfirst, pick it up, scoop it to Jalen,” Thibodeau said. “When you make those types of plays, those plays unite and inspire your team and then there’s a belief that ‘We can do this.’”

“When Ju is doing that, that’s big time, especially from him. We all feed off of that,” said Brunson. “That was a big play and kind of helped us down the stretch and helped us with our confidence a lot.”

The Knicks have now won the first two legs of a pivotal five-game road trip, defeating both Utah and Denver. But three more key games lie ahead (Golden State, Phoenix, Oklahoma City), and Thibodeau knows that now is not the time for the Knicks to ease up or start feeling overly confident.

“There has to be a consistency to what we do,” he said. “… It was a good road win, enjoy it tonight and get ready tomorrow and know what the challenge is that’s coming next. So, just go step by step.”

Source: Yahoo Sports

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