Julius Randle may draw the ire of frustrated Knicks fans, but his performance on Monday night was nothing short of spectacular.
The 27-year-old power forward drained eight three pointers on 13 attempts as the team topped the Minnesota Timberwolves at Madison Square Garden by a 120–107 margin, which evened their season record at 5–5.
That tied Randle’s single-game record for threes.
“I think part of it is guys playing free, not second-guessing, just trusting themselves,” Randle said of the game.
Randle finished the night with 31 points, while adding eight rebounds and three assists over the course of 32 minutes.
Monday saw the team make 10 threes in the first quarter, marking a franchise record. They finished with 19.
So far this season, Randle is on pace to attempt 442.8 three pointers, which would be significantly higher than his previous high of 390 attempts, which he recorded last year.
The power forward, who has struggled early in the year, said he needed to focus on breaking the stretch of bad games and remain confident.
“It’s a lot of work. Obviously, you’ll go through spells, where your confidence is up-and-down. But that’s where the mindfulness comes in,” Randle said.
Fans of the team had been getting frustrated with the veteran’s play of late, and called for more minutes to be given to fellow-power forward Obi Toppin — though head coach Tom Thibodeau has stuck with the veteran this year, playing him 33.7 minutes each contest.
Toppin, meanwhile, has logged 17.3 minutes per game.
Randle is under contract for three more seasons after this year, with a player option in the last year, and makes over $25 million per season on average.
That long, top-dollar contract has some fans worrying that he would be a drain on the team’s cap space and financial flexibility, but if he’s able to continue the level of play he showed on Monday, he’s worth every dollar.