It’s been four wins in a row for the Knicks (22-18), who also got to finally break an 11-game winless streak against Toronto on the road. The last time New York flew to Canada and came back with a W in the bag was Nov. 2015.
Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points. Lou Amundson played five minutes and stole one possession. Derek Fisher was still coaching the team under the presidency of Phil Jackson. It was Fisher’s fourth win in eight games.
Randle kept up his All-Star bid with another 25-plus-point outing scoring 32 points shooting 10-of-22 from the floor and hitting 6 3-point shots through the game. Five of those long-range buckets came on the first five minutes of play alone.
“I felt good,” Randle said. “Shots were falling.”
The forward, who didn’t make it to the top-10 list of players at his position with the most votes in the first All-Star results, added 11 boards and three dimes to his stat line. It’s now nine matches in a row for Randle scoring at least 25 points and six straight with at least 11 rebounds next to his name.
Speaking of pulling down boards, Mitchell Robinson got to grab 18 bouncing balls on Friday to lead everybody involved in the game. Mitch scored 10 points for the second time in three games before fouling out of Friday’s game with six personal fouls. Big Mitch has committed five, one, five, and finally six fouls in the last four games played from New Year’s Eve on.
“Really, it’s a learning experience. We know what to do, what not to do,” said Robinson about the Knicks’ victory. “Gotta keep learning and get better at it.”
New York had to hold off a late rally by the Raptors on their way to winning in Toronto. The Knicks led by 16 points with a hair above four minutes left in regulation but a monster run inspired by Paskal Siakam saw Toronto shrink the deficit to a four-point one with 49 seconds to go.
The Knicks built a 17-point lead in the first half but, as has been the case at multiple times in past games, nearly threw it away in the waning moments of Friday’s Canadian matchup.
With RJ Barrett still out—albeit not wearing a cast anymore on his recently-lacerated finger—Quentin Grimes and Jalen Brunson started in the backcourt along with Quentin Grimes.
Brunson led the unit with 26 points and eight assists, although he turned the ball over a surprising five times. IQ poured 13 points while grabbing five boards and dishing out four dimes, and Grimes reached 16 points through 36 minutes of play.
“It’s great. [Quickley] is fantastic at it,” said Brunson. “Quick has the ability to kind of switch on and off, where he’s playing on the ball or off.” The former Mav also thinks he’s similar to Quickley, saying that in his first four years in the Association he “had the same ability,” albeit conceding that “[Quickley] is way better than me when I was doing it. He’s really special.”
In an interesting development, New York tied Boston for the second-most wins on the road this season with 12. Only the Brooklyn Nets have more (13) while no other team is past 10 (four-way tie).
“We had the confidence to get this win on the road,” Randle said. “It’s big for us.”
It was all plaudits for Randle, coming from all fronts, teammates, and even his coach after the win against Toronto.
Said Thibs: “I thought he was huge (and) his start gave us a lot of confidence. When a guy comes out like that, it sort of sets the tone for the game.”
Said Brunson: “The way he’s playing is just unheard of. He’s playing really well, with confidence, and having fun. So it’s really awesome to see how he’s been able to kind of bounce back [from last season].”
Said the very own Randle: “Oh my goodness, it’s about time we won one of those type of games.”
The truth is, Randle was hella right with his closing statements after New York won its fourth consecutive game coming off a five-game losing streak.
“We made free throws down the end and executed down the stretch. And they don’t hit every single ridiculous shot.”
Obi Toppin was active but didn’t play. “He’s getting close,” according to Thibs. Saturday brings a deadline for the Knicks to make a decision on whether they want both Ryan Arcidiacano and Svi Mykhailiuk to remain with the team on guaranteed deals (of around $2M each) or if they’re better off waiving them and opening a couple of roster spots.
Derrick Rose and Cam Reddish were left out of the hardwood earning DNP-CD while Miles McBride got 21 healthy minutes and Evan Fournier logged 12. Just one month to trade-deadline day, with it coming on Feb. 9. Just saying.