Randle No-Shows In Awful Loss To Cleveland
If it were just Randle missing shots, it would be far easier for fans to accept. It’s the jarring, lackadaisical defense that dives New Yorkers nuts.
The Knicks should have won Wednesday night. They were six-point favorites at home against a Cavs team they blew out the night before on the road, and Cleveland was still playing without their All-Star starting center Jarrett Allen, their All-Star point guard Darius Garland and their backup PG Ty Jerome.
There are plenty of reasons why New York dropped to 0-2 at MSG. RJ Barrett missed his first game of the season due to a sore left knee, and the Knicks offense was awful. The ‘Bockers shot below 35 percent from the field, below 17 percent from deep and below 67 percent from the charity stripe.
However, the primary culprit in Wednesday’s embarrassing 95-89 defeat was Julius Randle.
Yes, Randle once again struggled mightily with his shot, converting just three of his 15 field goal attempts. But that’s far from the most concerning issue. As noted above, several of his teammates also were unable to put the ball in the bucket, but they found other ways to contribute.
Jalen Brunson was 8-of-23, but he drew four charges (the most in a single game by any NBA player this season). Mitchell Robinson scored just six points and missed four more free throws, but he was a demon defensively, challenging countless shots at the rim, and pounded the glass relentlessly, ripping down 16 rebounds (eight of them on the offensive end). Isaiah Hartenstein didn’t score a single point but had six boards, three steals and two dimes in less than 16 minutes of action.
Overall, the Knicks played well enough on the defensive end to win despite their offensive ineptitude. Holding a team to 95 points in an NBA game in 2023 is often a recipe for success. And, for the most part, New York competed hard enough to compensate for their lack of accuracy. Save one exception.
Julius Rande should be embarrassed by his effort Wednesday night. There were several examples of him simply giving up on plays, which is not acceptable at this level.
Right from the opening tip, it was one of those games in which he appeared to be moving at half speed, as though his feet were stuck in mud. All too often, the offense came to a grinding halt with the ball in his hands, as he looked to isolate against the slow-footed Georges Niang, who was making his first start of the season. Randle, clearly lacking confidence, passed up some open 3-pointers, and took too long to make decisions. Oftentimes, he made the wrong decisions.
At halftime, I tweeted that Randle’s first two quarters were atrocious and difficult to watch.
Somehow, the second half was much worse.
Let’s go to the tape.
Early in the third quarter, we see Randle lollygagging around the perimeter when Evan Mobley catches the ball underneath the basket. Mitch Rob sprints from the three-point line to challenge Mobley. Randle, who was at the dotted line, took a slow step before lazily putting up an arm and allowing the layup.
On the Cavs' next offensive possession, Randle watches as Max Strus easily dribbles by him and coasts in for an uncontested lay-up.