Coming into Monday’s game, Julius Randle was averaging 23.3 points, 11.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists and was clearly the MVP of the solid early start to the season for the Knicks. By late Monday night, all those numbers would take drastic hits.
Randle was a shell of himself, scoring just 11 points and grabbing five rebounds — both season lows. He was just 2-9 from the field, 0-2 from 3, and lead the team in turnovers with four.
It was a surprising game across the board, with every starter finishing the game in double figures making you wish that Randle had shown up Monday night to keep the Knicks from going under .500.
The Knicks even got help from Kevin Knox off the bench — the third year forward, who’s left many fan scratching their heads as to when he’ll reach his No. 8 pick potential, scored 19 points and hit five three pointers.
Forget that the Knicks had a poor overall shooting night (39.1 percent from the field, 24.3 percent from 3), and it feels like if Randle just put together a game that we’ve been used to seeing this season, we could be talking about a win here.
No matter what happened on offense, the Knicks’ defense struggled to maintain Gordon Hayward (34 points), Devonte Graham (19 points) and two other Hornets that had 13 apiece.
LaMelo Ball, who many Knicks fans hoped the team would be able to draft in November, had a bad night shooting the ball, finishing 3-13 from the field, but was all over the court in every other way, finishing with 14 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a block.
The Knicks entered the game allowing just over 105 points per game, so the 109 they gave up Monday was only slightly above their usual number.
However, the Knicks typically score above 100 points a night, so that 88 was a huge downgrade in play. New York doesn’t exactly have any snipers from 3 on the team, but that’s how winning basketball is played in today’s NBA.
One guy that the Knicks need to find his shot is RJ Barrett, who shot 0-5 from 3 and was a dreadful 5-18 from the field, and has just had a tough time with his stroke overall this season.
The Knicks are obviously still far from being championship contenders, but with the way Randle has been leading the team this season, they’ve looked like a team that could — maybe — make the playoffs, especially with a team like the Toronto Raptors reeling and way outside looking in at the moment.
For now, it looks like the Knicks can only go as high as Randle can take them.
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