And the award for the best duo goes to Julius Randle and RJ Barrett.
A day after their ugly performance on the same court in Los Angeles, Randle and Barrett combined for 63 points as the Knicks snapped a three-game losing streak Sunday by beating the Lakers, 112-108, as the Academy Awards Academy was taking place 15 minutes away in Hollywood. .
Randle controlled the first half with 25 of his 33 points. Barrett took over in the second half and finished with 30 points.
Together, they carried the offensive load without the injured Jalen Brunson as the Knicks avoided a late collapse after Josh Hart dunked two clutch free throws with five seconds remaining. Hart’s shooting gave the visitors a four-point lead and halted an 8-0 Lakers run, helping the Knicks (40-30) keep pace with the Nets (39-29) by fifth place in the East. The Lakers (33-35), playing without LeBron James, couldn’t continue their three-game winning streak. Isaiah Hartenstein was another Knicks hero, grabbing 10 rebounds and closing out the fourth quarter.
Randle outplayed Anthony Davis, who only scored 17 points in 37 minutes.
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a day before in crypto.com Arena against the Clippers, Randle was an inefficient mess, missing 19 shots and throwing a tantrum. There were questions about whether he was exhausted from the increased workload and heavy minutes. He entered Sunday leading the NBA in total minutes.
But Randle avoids every opportunity to rest, and he’s continued his perfect assist record this season. Plus, coach Tom Thibodeau wasn’t buying fatigue as an excuse.
“If Julius needs a day off from practice, he’ll have the day off. Whatever he needs,” Thibodeau told reporters after Saturday’s loss to the Clippers. “But I also don’t think if a guy misses shots, he’s tired.”
Randle rebounded with a vengeance by scoring 18 points in the first quarter. He gave them 644 points in the first quarters this season, setting the record for the most in franchise history since it was played-by-play in 1997-98. Carmelo Anthony held the previous record in 2013-14.
Brunson watched the game from the bench in a walking boot, the fourth game he had missed with a ‘sore foot’. According to ESPN, it’s “unlikely” Brunson will play Tuesday in Portland, giving him nine days off before Saturday’s upcoming home game against the Nuggets.
“He’s a great player for us,” RJ Barrett told reporters. He is our plant general. I definitely miss having him on the court, but while he’s out, we have to figure it out. We have to figure out how to get these victories. Every game is now intense from start to finish. We have to figure it out somehow, try to get the easiest ones.”
Without Brunson, Immanuel Quickley and Miles McBride played base minutes and combined for 23 points.