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David Fizdale changes Knicks' lineup to open floor for Julius Randle

Julius Randle of the Knicks goes to the

Julius Randle of the Knicks goes to the hoop against Robert Williams III of the Boston Celtics in the second half at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Knicks are hoping that tinkering with their starting lineup will jump-start Julius Randle.

Coach David Fizdale announced before Sunday night’s 113-92 loss to Sacramento at the Garden that Bobby Portis would start at center in place of Mitchell Robinson.

The thinking was that Portis, who unlike Robinson has an outside shot, would space the floor better and open things up for Randle.

Randle wound up scoring eight points and shooting 4-for-13 in 27 minutes. Portis scored two points in 20 minutes and Robinson had 10 in 25 minutes off the bench.

Randle, the Knicks’ top offseason acquisition, entered the game averaging a double-double (14.3 points, 11.0 rebounds). Since opening the season with a 25-point, 11-rebound game against San Antonio, his production has fallen, though. A career 50% shooter, he entered the game shooting just 43.6% and was 1-for-15 from three-point range.

Randle, 24, averaged 21.4 points and 8.7 rebounds last season for the Pelicans. However, he wasn’t the primary focus of opposing defenses on that team because he had Anthony Davis as a teammate.

“It’s new. He hasn’t seen people running two and three people at him before,” Fizdale said. “It’s just a matter of his learning to play against those defenses and understanding how to attack them.”

Kings coach Luke Walton, who coached Randle when they were with the Lakers, said, “I loved coaching Julius. How hard he plays, what he’s capable of doing. It was fun helping to grow him as a player. I’m happy he’s had some success and has a new opportunity here. I know they are off to a slow start, but the city will really embrace him as they get to know him.”

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