NY Post: Julius Randle dismantles Rockets as Knicks reach major milestone

From Marc Berman:

There’s something about his home state of Texas that brings out the very best in Julius Randle.

After ransacking Dallas for 44 points last month, Randle kicked off May with 31 points in 30 minutes in punishing chatty Houston as the Knicks began their six-game Western trip with a 122-97 whitewashing of the awful Rockets.

The victory assured the Knicks (36-28) of a .500 record. They haven’t posted a record of .500 or better since 2012-13. The Knicks also hadn’t won in Houston since 2015-16, but this is a sorry edition of the Rockets who fell to 16-49, 5-35 in their last 40, and are missing starting point guard John Wall.

Randle made 13 of 22 shots — 4 of 9 from 3-point land — as his All-NBA campaign raged on with a 15-point third quarter. RJ Barrett gave him complementary help, scoring 21 points and Derrick Rose was a demon off the bench with 24 points.

We knew the Knicks “needed” this one and we knew that the Knicks should win this one and it is really nice that we are at the point that games like these are pretty much gimmes, right? Especially after Houston got their asses kicked just last night.

It is always important to kick the ass of the shitty teams. It’s a sign of a well-coached team that the Knicks never take their feet off of the necks of shitty teams.

SI.com: What’s Next for the Knicks Now and Beyond?

Our old friend, Chris Herring, is at SI.com now, and he has a nice piece up about the Knicks that, well, I dunno, man, I just needed something for a new thread since the Knicks don’t play again until Sunday.

What’s the next step for the formidable Knicks, both now and beyond this year?

For now just about everything starts with forward Julius Randle. He was a tornadic turnover machine last season, coughing up more miscues in one-on-one situations than any other volume scorer in the league. Yet after a tireless offseason, Randle’s been a completely different, All-NBA type player this year, averaging 32.2 points, 8.5 boards and 5.2 assists on 50.7% from three the past two and a half weeks.

The challenge here is that opposing teams likely won’t let him wreak havoc that way in a playoff series.

Yes, at times Randle calls his own number in the middle floor, where it’s tougher to double-team him. But clubs like the Celtics and Heat will send aggressive traps at him when he’s serving as a pick-and-roll ballhandler. Similarly, when Randle’s acting as the roll man, defenses will sell out on him and simply dare guard Elfrid Payton to shoot floaters, which he connects on just 38% of the time, according to Synergy.

Derrick Rose, who’s knocked down his wildly flat midrange jumpers at a career-best rate this year and created a bevy of “Kobe Assists,” presents one obvious way to get around the Payton problem.

More than anything, though, Randle—equal parts freight train and maestro—will have to let the game come to him if and when teams seek to force the ball out of his hands. That means trusting his teammates in the corner, where the Knicks have launched a greater share of triples than any other NBA team thus far.

“Knocking those down is crucial, because it makes the defense change what it’s doing. It’s a huge help to [Randle] and our team,” says second-year wing RJ Barrett, who’s enjoying a breakout season of his own.

New York was dead-last in the NBA, at 32.8% from three, when left wide open in January. The club ranked fourth in February at 42.9% on those shots. Then ranked eighth in March at 41.9%. No one’s been better than the Knicks in April, a month when they’ve hit 48.4% of their wide-open treys.

Lots more good stuff at the link. Go read it. Herring is great. And I adore that he used the term “Kobe assists.”

My one criticism is that he does one of those sort of, “I’m not saying, I’m just saying” bits at the end where he doesn’t really actually answer his own headline question as to what he thinks is next for the Knicks. It’s obviously one of the questions that has been dominating our mindspace for some time now, even as much as we’ve been enjoying the winning streak, “What comes next?” is an important question and it’s fascinating just how open-ended everything is. In a good way, I’d say, but I think there are some obvious pitfalls out there, and that’s what I would have liked to have seen Herring address a bit more. Still, it’s a good piece and it’s always nice to see the Knicks get praised in places like SI.com.

2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Future Knick Zach LaVine’s Team

The Knicks host the LaVine-less Bulls in what has got to be a must-win (or should I say, they obviously should win, so a loss would be devastating) game ahead of some tougher future games.

The Eastern Conference is somehow actually still bunched together even after the Knicks’ awesome nine-game winning streak, so they need to pick up wins in games where they are the clear favorites, like tonight.

Let’s go, get back to winning, Knicks!

NY Post: Chris Paul delivers dagger in bitter end to Knicks’ winning streak

From Marc Berman:

After losing in Brooklyn on Sunday, Suns star Devin Booker vowed to finish his team’s five-game Eastern swing with a victory at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

“That’s last thing we said in the locker room,’’ Booker said. “We’ll be ready for [Monday].’’

And so they were. The Knicks have a lot of good things going but they don’t have Booker. They don’t have point guard Chris Paul — try as they might have. And they don’t have emerging standout Mikal Bridges, even though they could have.

In a bitter end to the Knicks’ nine-game winning streak, Paul connected on three daggers in the final 1:20, including a wild circus shot, to lift the mighty Suns to a 118-110 victory Monday at the Garden.

The Knicks, who finish their six-game homestand Wednesday against the Bulls, blew a 15-point lead they built in the second quarter.

“It’s over — win the next one,’’ said a dejected Julius Randle, who put forth a rare stinker amid his All-Star campaign. “I’m fine. I saw a lot of bodies but it was what it was. The game’s in the past and move onto the next one. Find a way to close out the homestand with a win.’’

“I saw a lot of bodies” is a weird thing to say.

Anyhow, they played one of the most successful teams in the NBA (I really don’t think they’re as good as their record, but they’re still quite good) to the last 30 seconds, so that was very impressive.

One of the things that has been fascinating is how the Knicks’ offense has slowly but surely been ratcheting up the three-pointers taken and it has done a world of good for this offense. Love to see it.

Now, just go kick the Bulls’ butt on Wednesday and start a new streak!

EDITED TO ADD: Look how weird this Mike Vaccarro article is. This dude got paid to basically just write nothing. It’s bizarre.

2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Future Knick Chris Paul’s Team

On his breakout album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan released the song, “I Shall Be Free,” which was a version of an old Leadbelly song that Dylan’s idol, Woody Guthrie, had covered, but basically, it’s just a rambling satirical talking blues song. Even this early in his career (this was 1962), Dylan was already sort of poking fun at how much he was being treated as this great political thinker because he wrote, like, one hit song about stuff blowing in the wind. So in “I Shall Be Free,” President Kennedy is asking Bob for advice on how to run the country and Bob is giving nonsense answers “My friend, Bob, what do we need to make the country grow?” I said, “My friend, John, Brigitte Bardot, Anita Eckberg, Sophia Loren”

A couple of years later, Dylan poked even more fun at how he was portrayed as such a political visionary with a song on 1964’s Another Side of Bob Dylan called “I Shall be Free No. 10.” He opened with false modesty, “I’m just average, common too
I’m just like him, the same as you
I’m everybody’s brother and son
I ain’t different from anyone
It ain’t no use a-talking to me
It’s just the same as talking to you.”

And just a bunch of nonsense. It’s a fun song, but Dylan has never played it live.

Anyhow, this has no bearing on tonight’s game, so I have no idea why I brought it up.

The Phoenix Suns come to town after being handled by the Harden-less Nets last night, so hopefully they’re tired.

Let’s go Knicks, go be free #10!

2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Future Knick Kyle Lowry’s Team

Here’s an interesting piece of trivia for you. Can you name the first Beatle to have a solo #1 hit on the Billboard Top 100 and the last Beatle to have a solo #1 hit on the Billboard Top 100? It’s the same guy, as George Harrison beat his more famous bandmates to the punch with 1970’s “My Sweet Lord” and then was the last Beatle to have a top hit with 1987’s “I Got My Mind Set On You” which was off of a strong album called Cloud Nine (this is especially fascinating as Harrison only had three #1 singles and yet he somehow was the first and the last Beatle to get one. Can you name Harrison’s only other #1 hit?).

Here’s the title track, “Cloud Nine.”

I offer up that song for no reason, why do you ask?

The Knicks host the Toronto Raptors on Saturday afternoon with a chance to win another game. That would be swell.

Let’s go get to cloud nine, Knicks!