Julius Randle’s lights-out shooting led the New York Knicks to a 20-point comeback win over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.
Randle finished the game with a career-high 46 points, propelled by eight three-pointers, as the team from MSG exploded in the second half to win 131-115.
The game started slow for the Knicks, as the Kings took a 49-29 lead with 6:16 to go in the second quarter, and carried a 15-point lead into halftime — but New York came out swinging in the third, when they outscored Sacramento 44-24 to take a five-point lead into the final 12 minutes of play.
In addition to Randle’s stellar play, Knicks young stars RJ Barret and Immanuel Quickley added much-needed help, scoring 29 and 27, respectively.
The team collectively shot 51.1% from the field, including 42.9% from three.
The win came just one day after the team beat the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night by a 116-93 margin.
Head Coach Tom Thibodeau praised Randle’s career-high point total, and highlighted his second-half intensity that ignited the team’s comeback.
“When he plays with that type of intensity, it lifts everyone. He was attacking the basket, he was shooting the three, he was making hustle plays — it was a great all-around game from him in so many different ways,” said Coach Tom Thibodeau.
Randle added that the team’s collective defense led to the offensive onslaught in the final 24 minutes.
“Once we got stops, the offense came a lot easier,” he said.
Barret, who has averaged nearly 29 points per game over the past six contests, made clear that the game plan revolved around Randle’s hot-hand.
“When he’s doing that… I mean, shoot. Just give him the ball, and get out of the way,” said Barrett.
Meanwhile, frustrated Kings All-Star Domantas Sabonis was ejected from the game with 4:35 to go in the fourth quarter after heatedly arguing against a foul call on Quickly, and left the court with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
“We keep getting these leads playing the right way and we just can’t come out in the second half and sustain it,” Sabonis said. “It was just a frustrating game.”
Kings Point guard De’Aaron Fox led the team with 24 points, while Harrison Barnes added another 23.
The game marks the fourth game of a seven game road trip for the Knicks, who head to Dallas on March 9, then to Memphis on March 11, and wrap up in Brooklyn on March 13.
The team’s two-game win streak comes after a seven-game losing skid, and the Knicks now find themselves with a 27-38 record, which puts them 4.5 games out of the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference — and so, with just 17 games left, hopes of securing a spot in the play-in tournament are dwindling.