Julius Randle was unstoppable as the hometown kid willed the Knicks over the Mavericks in Dallas with his second 40-point game of the season.

The New York Knicks (30-27) and Dallas Mavericks (30-25) have put on a show when they have met up in the past few years. After two show-stopping duels last season and Dallas defeating New York in their first contest this season, the Knicks took care of business tonight, defeating the Mavs 117-109.

Tonight’s win is extra sweet for the ‘Bockers for two reasons. Firstly, New York’s neighbors in the playoff race all lost, and now New York takes a stronger hold of the sixth seed. Secondly, the Knicks extended their winning streak to five games, which they haven’t accomplished since 2014.

Julius Randle found himself in a groove early, making his first five shots, which included three triples, to put up an early 13 points in the game’s first five minutes. Derrick Rose carried the torch by hitting his first three shots right out of the gate. The Mavericks’ offense found success by slicing open the Knicks’ perimeter defender and kicking the ball out to shooters. Dallas sunk five of their first seven attempts from deep and Luka Doncic assisted on four of those triples.

After being knotted at 19 points apiece midway through the opening period, the Knicks closed out the quarter on a 15-6 run. Kristaps Porzingis embraced #FlashbackFriday by bolstering the Knicks’ defense. The artist formerly known as Porzingod started his night with 1-of-6 shooting from the field goal in the first quarter.

Conversely, fellow former Knick Tim Hardaway Jr. helped his current team by running out for fast-break layups and quickly tacking on nine points at the beginning of the second quarter. New York’s offense went sloppy, allowing the red hot Hardaway to pull the Mavs closer.

Doncic shot a meager 1-for-4 from the field in the first half but his fingerprints were all over Dallas’ offense, as he threw nine dimes in the first half. New York collapsed on Doncic to half his drives, but he found a teammate to snap a pass to. From there, the rest of the Mavs took care of business by either taking the open shot, driving into the scrambling defense, or moving the ball around to find the open man. Porzingis found the bucket a few times and Hardway continued his torrid shooting to narrow the deficit.

The Knicks shot themselves in the foot offensively by failing to strike on the advantages they found. They compromised Dallas’ defense on several occasions but opted to kick the ball back out to the perimeter instead of taking it to the hoop. Still, thanks to Randle and his 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting, the ‘Bockers led by four at the end of the first half, 56-52.

The teams played hot potato with the lead to start the second half. The Knicks’ frequent switching on defense kept the Mavs at bay but they couldn’t get find any consistent offense to go with it. Doncic eventually took control and willed his way to the paint and hit some shots in the paint and from the charity stripe, which put Dallas back in front. Randle responded with some buckets of his own, swinging the lead back over to New York.

As he is known to do, R.J. Barrett provided some much-needed fourth-quarter shots. This time, though, his big buckets came at the beginning, rather than the end, of the final period. With eight points in two minutes, he pushed the Knicks’ lead up to nine points.

New York raised their scoreboard advantage to 12 points but the Mavericks snipped it to five with under five minutes remaining. The Knicks, anchored by a vicious dunk denial courtesy of Nerlens Noel, pushed ahead and held on to the W.

Randle added nine points down the stretch of the fourth quarter to match his season-high point total, finishing with 44 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists. Barrett ended the night with 24 points and eight rebounds and Rose contributed 15 points and five assists. Doncic posted 22 points, 19 assists, and eight boards, Porzingis tallied 23 points and 12 rebounds and Hardaway chipped in 16 points.

Randle and Rowan rockin’

Randle and Barrett are becoming a well-balanced offensive attack, where Randle gets himself going in the first half and Barrett fills in as a second-half scorer. Tonight didn’t exactly go that way, as Randle’s shooting was hot all night long, but Barrett continued to be the Knick with the knack in the fourth quarter.

In the city where his basketball journey began, Randle went to work and showed out. He took all comers off the dribble and sunk shot after shot, finishing with 44 points on 16-of-29 shooting from the field and 6-for-11 shooting from beyond the arc.

Meanwhile, Barrett scored 13 points in the fourth quarter. The 20-year-old’s individual run to start the fourth quarter swung the momentum in the Knicks’ favor permanently. His 24 points came on 9-of-18 field goal shooting and 3-for-6 three-point shooting.

Thibs with the…lineup creativity?

Alec Burks, the latest Knick to fall victim to the league’s health and safety protocols, was unavailable for this game. His minutes weren’t totally filled by another player. Instead, Tom Thibodeau mixed and matched his lineups, a practice that has previously been foreign to him.

Randle was subbed out with four minutes left in the fourth and was reinserted with a minute left. Obi Toppin filled in for just three minutes before Thibodeau deployed the rest of the reserves—Rose, Immanuel Quickley, and Taj Gibson—and used two of his starters to fill in the other spots. Mostly, it was Randle, Barrett, and Reggie Bullock who filled in.

Still, Thibodeau’s worst habit shined through, as he leaned far too much on Elfrid Payton through the first three quarters. His box score stats crept towards a triple-double, but his inconsistent defense, momentum-killing mistakes, and his team-worst plus-minus of -6 held the Knicks back.

Rose had an efficient shooting night off the bench and would have put further pressure on the Mavs if he had played more. Thibodeau did ride with Rose through most of the final period which resulted in the Knicks keeping their sizable lead. Yet he turned back in Payton’s direction as the game wound down and drew closer in score. It didn’t spell total doom for the Knicks but was a head-scratching decision nonetheless.

Thibodeau may have earned himself some good grace by playing Frank Ntilikina in key minutes. The French Prince appeared in the fourth quarter, as Thibodeau assigned him to smother Hardaway, which he did rather well. He hit a corner three, too! He was the only out-of-the-normal-rotation player to find minutes in this one, recording four of them to be exact.

The Knicks’ next game—a rematch on Sunday with the New Orleans Pelicans scheduled for 1 p.m. ET—kicks off a six-game homestead.


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