Phoenix – Julius Randle said last night that the Knicks season wasn’t over yet, and for about three-quarters of a Friday night, he made sure to make sure.
Next, Randle’s obscure side raised his ugly head and was sent off with 2:40 left in the third quarter, with the Knicks leading by 10 points, After the Suns pushed forward Cam Johnson.
Without Randall and Johnson igniting, the Knicks couldn’t take the lead in the wild footprint.
Johnson led the Suns to a miraculous finish, capping an impressive fourth quarter by tackling a 32-foot 3-pointer at the bell to hand the Knicks another heartbreaking, easily avoidable loss, 115-114.
With Randle in the locker room, Johnson scored 21 of 38 points in the fourth quarter to lead the return of victory and send the Knicks to their seventh straight loss – and the most crushing one.
“He was jumping, carrying us tonight, he was on his way to 40 points in the night,” RJ Barrett said of Randall. “He would have helped us with the energy he brought to the game. But we still have to win this match.
“Even when Julius fell to the ground we held on to our own. We definitely should win the match by 100 persin. [Cam] He was on fire and made a great shot at the end. It hurts, but we still proudly walked away. ”
Randall was not available for comment afterwards.
“You can’t cross that line,” Knicks coach Tom Tebodeau said. “You have to know where to stop. None of us are perfect. We will make mistakes. But we must be disciplined.”
“It’s hard to lose him. He had a great match. I worry about everything. The shame of that is that I thought we went out too hard to start the match. The match was going well, and we failed in the end. It’s disappointing to come out with a loss.”
The Suns took the lead with 30 seconds left, but the Knicks’ header Mitchell Robinson (17 points, 15 rebounds, 8 for 8 from the field) scored with a header 15 seconds left, giving the Knicks a 113-112 lead. And he seems to be making himself the hero while also saving Randall.
Alec Burks hit one of the two fouls to make it 114-112 before Johnson won the triple-match and the Knicks couldn’t grab the rebound.
Randle (25 points) was controversial all evening, but then lost his temper. Randle switched to superfast charging mode – the same frantic look he had when he made his famous “thumbs-down” gesture to fans earlier this season.
Johnson tried to get Randall out of boxing and the veteran Knicks kept him with his elbow while they were battling for a rebound. Johnson then shoved Randle in the back before Randall turned to the young Suns, started to unwind and shoved him as the referee walked in between them.
After the match, Johnson said that their fight started early in the match and continued to escalate and he had “adrenaline” in the fourth quarter due to the squabble.
Barrett, who scored 20 points but only hit 6 of 26, said he hadn’t spoken to Randle after that and he and Tibodo said they had no idea what had happened. Tibodo said he also didn’t speak to Randle, who finished with 25 points in 28 minutes, went up 9 for 18 and hit all six of his free throws. He also scored seven rebounds and four assists.
Players on both sides began to grab each other, and the brawl resulted in two technical fouls against Randle, resulting in an automatic ejection after reviewing the referee. Johnson got one technique. After the skirmish, Evan Fournier introduced Randle, not realizing that his teammate was about to break down.
The Knicks led 86-76 with all the momentum before the crash. They still lead 93-81 in the fourth quarter. Randle’s reserve, Obi Tobin, was already out of service with a hamstring injury. Cam Reddish came in to play the power forward and initially helped maintain the lead.
It’s been a furious season for Randall, who battled referees, fans and assistant coaches, and who wasn’t the captain he needed to be like the returning Knicks star.
“His loss was tough but we still have to win the match,” Barrett said. “We’re a down guy but everyone has to go up. ”
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