Madness & Miracles
Do you believe what you just saw? Me neither.
Game Recap: Knicks 108, Celtics 105
OK…(deep breath)…here we go:
The Knicks, after coming out with one of their most listless, unengaged, and poorly executed starts of the season, fell behind 19-6 midway through the first, and then after the bench closed the gap to four early in the second, again fell into a malaise to go behind by 25 with just under four minutes to go in the half. The deficit would have been greater had it not been for Evan Fournier’s 19 first half points, and thanks to an 8-0 run in the final 65 seconds before halftime, they trailed by just 16 going into the locker room.
Then, after a punch and a counterpunch to start the third, Immanuel Quickley checked in midway through the quarter. With the Knicks down 20, IQ prompted a 21-3 run that also featured the angry battering ram known as Julius Randle. Together, they changed the course of this game and maybe New York’s season.
After the Knicks finally took the lead with just over two minutes left on - what else - a three from Fournier assisted by Quickley, there was a bit more back and forth before Jayson Tatum put the moves on RJ Barrett to gain just enough separation to make a game-tying midrange J.
And then, with 1.5 second left, magic.
⓵ Now it’s personal. While Even Fournier may have settled all family business by wrecking havoc on the team that didn’t want to bring him back, for Julius Randle, this game was anything but strictly business.
Except his ire wasn’t directed at the Celtics:
What appeared in the moment to be Randle taking a page from Javier Beaz’ book and giving the fans a thumbs down was confirmed after the game when he was asked about the gesture from the assembled media:
In what was an unbelievable game, this is going to become a major talking point moving forward, and as much as I’m loath to waste space on sensationalism that has nothing to do with basketball, I have no choice but to focus on this story first and foremost because it has everything to do with basketball.
Julius Randle, during a season in which he has been largely bad, was part of a Knicks starting five that came out with a preseason level of effort, and it didn’t get much better throughout the half. Whether it was the early booing, the booing in the third after New York picked up its effort but saw Boston hit some tough shots, or whether this was more about some fans’ elated response to Randle entering protocols a week ago, what can’t be denied based on Randle’s actions and comments both tonight and on Wednesday is that he has taken the criticism to heart this season.
One can debate whether or not his gripe is justified, but what can’t be debated is the version of Randle we got as this game went on - the angry version who was getting to the rim at will and played like his life depended on it:
This is the version we’ve been waiting to see all year, and the complete and total absence of that player is what has prompted all the fan frustration in the first place.
Julius may think he’s Russell Crowe here, asking anyone within earshot “Are you not entertained,” but in reality he’s far closer to Commodus, confused as to why no one loves him when the answer has been staring at him in the mirror the whole time. The people he’s yelling at just want to watch someone who obviously cares as much as they do. That’s all any fan ever wants, good or bad, make or miss, win or lose.
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