Julius Randle #30 of the Knicks argues with referee Mark...

Julius Randle #30 of the Knicks argues with referee Mark Lindsay #29 during the fourth quarter against the Nets at Barclays Center on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

When the game ended, Tom Thibodeau walked Julius Randle from the court and to the locker room, calming his star player. But by the time he reached the postgame news conference, Thibodeau had his own angry tirade ready.

It wasn’t just the frustration of a 112-110 loss to the Nets at Barclays Center that had Thibodeau and Randle on edge. Randle angrily went at official Jason Goldenberg after the final buzzer and had to be escorted away by Knicks officials.

It was the 25-12 free throw discrepancy on a night when the Knicks believe that Randle was doing everything he could to get to the rim and draw contact. It was that Randle got just two free throws all night while the stars on the other side, James Harden and Kevin Durant, totaled 19 attempts.

And Randle, who already had drawn a technical foul with 1:36 left in the game after he was called for a foul on Durant, said that the officials told him he wouldn’t get calls because he was too strong.

"You’ve got to ask them," Randle said of the officials. "I don’t know what they’re watching or seeing, but you’ve got to ask them. As aggressive as I played, attacking the paint, I can’t be penalized for being stronger than people. And that’s the answer that I got today.

"They said certain contact doesn’t affect me like it affects other players. Because I’m stronger, they miss the calls."

Asked his reaction to that explanation, Randle said, "It [ticks] me off even more, to be honest with you, because that’s not how you officiate the game."

Randle, who finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, drew the technical with 1:36 to play after Durant drained a 20-footer for a two-point lead. The technical free throw upped the lead to three. The Knicks closed it to one on a Randle dunk, but he was then called for a foul against Durant with 27.5 seconds to play.

For Randle, this has been an ongoing issue and one that he didn’t want to focus on.

"You saw what happened," he said. "Everybody saw what happened. There’s no need for me to talk about it, we all saw what happened . . . But I’m not going to talk about that. I’m going to talk about the game. I’m not going to talk about those guys, because they clearly don’t understand the game."

Thibodeau was not as diplomatic. He had been irate during the game, challenging a call in the fourth quarter when Derrick Rose was called for a foul against Durant on a missed dunk and losing the challenge. After the Knicks' Evan Fournier hit a three-pointer with 17 seconds left to tie the score, James Johnson drove at Mitchell Robinson, who was called for a foul with 2.2 seconds left. Johnson sank the two free throws and Fournier's desperation 45-footer hit the rim.

"There’s a big discrepancy in free throws," Thibodeau said. "I can tell you that. Julius is driving the ball, and he gets two free throws. I don’t really care how the game’s called. I really don’t. You can call it tight, you can call it loose. But it’s got to be the same."

Thibodeau’s anger grew as he spoke — and perhaps luckily, his news conference ended less than two minutes in.

Asked why he believed there was an inconsistency in the calls, Thibodeau said, "I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m watching what’s going on both ways. Hey, look, they’re a good team, they played well, but I know Julius was driving that ball pretty darn hard. And I’m ticked]."

After Randle had his words with the officials at the end of the game and before Thibodeau walked him off, Durant hugged him and they exchanged words, much kinder than what Randle had with the officials.

"KD is just a great player," Randle said. "Growing up as a kid and seeing him go to the University of Texas, that was always a dream to play in my home state of Texas. Kind of follow after him because he gave kids a lot of hope or whatever it is. So I’ve always idolized him, love competing against him and learning from him. So just rapping with him a little bit. It’s always great competing against him."

Notes & quotes: RJ Barrett was ruled out of the game early in the second quarter with an illness. Alec Burks, inserted into the starting lineup in place of Kemba Walker for a second straight game, had 25 points. Thibodeau said Barrett’s absence didn’t allow a good look at what the starting lineup could be like . . . Jericho Sims was inactive, preserving a night on his two-way contract.