Julius Randle hits career-high eight three-pointers as the Knicks beat the Timberwolves in their second straight road win.

The New York Knicks (5-5) beat the Minnesota Timberwolves (5-6) in the Twin Cities on Monday night by a final score of 120-107.

Julius Randle had a career-high eight three-pointers made on 13 attempts and he, Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett all scored 20 or more points.

In the Knicks’ last game against the Boston Celtics, they came up short and gave up 27 three-pointers, a new team record for the Cs. New York had to tighten up their perimeter defense and had to find a way to come up victorious against a struggling Wolves squad. Minnesota was without All-Star center Rudy Gobert (Covid-19 protocols). For New York, they were without Quentin Grimes (sore foot) and Mitchell Robinson (sore knee).

Jericho Sims started for the first time at center this season in place of an injured Robinson.

In the first quarter of action, both teams took a few minutes to get any cohesion on offense. While the Wolves were unable to connect on several jumpers, the Knicks were unable to capitalize on several open shots at the rim. Eventually, Karl-Anthony Towns scored the first points of the game. New York did not score a basket until Cam Reddish hit a three-pointer at around the nine-minute mark of the period. That shot got the Knicks started, with Randle hitting back-to-back threes after Reddish’s make. He finished up the period with 15 points on 5-7 shooting from deep, with New York shooting 10-19 from long distance in the quarter. The score was 38-29 in the Knicks’ favor heading into the second quarter.

The second period began auspiciously, with the Knicks nearly committing a transition take foul and the Wolves immediately getting called for one on New York on the subsequent possession. The bench for the Knicks was eventually able to settle down, with plenty of ball movement thanks to the backcourt headed by Immanuel Quickley and Brunson. Their quickness up and down the court helped to open up a 19-point lead by the nine-minute mark of the period. They kept humming along from both long range and on defense, keeping the lead large with a score of 76-52. Randle led all scorers by the half with 20 points on 6-10 shooting from the field. Obi Toppin, who had only played 10 minutes through two, had 12 points on 3-5 shooting from the field. The Knicks also managed to only turn the ball over five times compared to the Wolves, who had turned it over 12 times by the half.

As soon as the second half opened up, RJ Barrett managed to get a scoop layup to fall while also drawing a foul. While this should have been a precursor to a solid start to the third quarter, it was anything but with stagnant offense and even more flat-footed defense. The Wolves began to chip away at the Knicks’ lead, led by Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards who slowly started to make an impact on the game after a silent first half. But, Barrett continued to be the biggest positive on the court for New York in the period as he hit a three-pointer to try and stop the bleeding. Unfortunately for Barrett, though, the Knicks were still looking lost on defense as the Wolves were able to creep their way back into the game by drawing foolish fouls and capitalizing on a lack of strength in the post with Sims sitting. By the end of the quarter, the Knicks still led by a score of 103-80, but they needed to commit more on defense and protect the ball if they wanted to seal the deal early in the fourth.

The Wolves scored seven points as soon as the fourth quarter began, cutting the lead to 16 points. Head coach Tom Thibodeau immediately went back to what had been a successful lineup earlier in the game helmed by Brunson and Quickley. It did not look to be a good game plan, though, as the Knicks both looked cold from deep and a step slow behind Minnesota due to some poor play in the paint from Isaiah Hartenstein. Thibodeau then went with a small ball lineup, with Toppin at the 5 and Randle at the 4 with an immediate positive impact. Randle kept his hot shooting streak going, with Toppin running all over the court to help on defense and with passing. Even as things got dicey with the fourth slowly wrapping up, New York was able to hold on and pull out a victory thanks to better perimeter defense and better paint protection.

The evening’s top performer was most obviously Randle, who finished up with a season-high 31 points on efficient 9-15 shooting from the field. He was 8-13 from deep. Randle also collected eight rebounds and dished out three assists, but had five turnovers on the night. Brunson followed Randle in points with 23 on 9-14 shooting from the field. Brunson also had eight assists and five rebounds. Barrett had an excellent third quarter and finished the game with 22 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Reddish was relatively silent on offense tonight with just eight points. Sims played great defensively, but could not stay out of foul trouble. He finished with four points, four rebounds, and one block.

The bench was solid yet again for the Knicks tonight, starting with Toppin who had 15 points, seven rebounds, four steals, and three assists in 25 minutes on the floor. Quickley ended up with nine points, four rebounds, two steals, and an assist in 17 minutes of action. Hartenstein had four points, six rebounds, two assists, and a block. Derrick Rose had two points, one assist, three rebounds, and three steals. Evan Fournier collected two points, three assists, two steals, and a rebound.

New York will now go on to face the Brooklyn Nets (4-6) at the Barclays Center on Wednesday evening.

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