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Julius Randle, Knicks follow emotional win over Celtics with dud in Boston

Knicks' Julius Randle reacts to a call during

Knicks' Julius Randle reacts to a call during the second half against the Boston Celtics, Saturday, Jan 8, 2022, in Boston.  Credit: AP/Michael Dwyer

The apology went out Friday and the $25,000 fine from the NBA followed Saturday, apparently putting a tidy bow on the troubles for the Knicks and Julius Randle.

His anger directed at the fan base had boiled over Thursday night when he gave a thumbs-down sign and then clarified his message by telling them to "shut the [expletive] up."

Randle had said his piece to express his frustration with the reaction to his and the Knicks' play a season after he was serenaded with chants of "M-V-P" every time he touched the ball. The Knicks had fought back from the early booing Thursday to capture a buzzer-beating victory over the Celtics at Madison Square Garden, and everyone seemed happy again.

All the Knicks needed to do was follow that momentum-gathering victory with another stellar effort in Boston on Saturday night, and the return home Monday night could present an opportunity for both sides to kiss and make up.

But the Knicks and Randle instead produced a dismal performance, scoring 49 points in the final three quarters and getting pummeled by the Celtics at TD Garden, 99-75. It marked their lowest scoring output since April 3, 2018.

If you don’t recall those glory days that put the finishing touches on a 28-win season, the starting lineup included Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, Kyle O’Quinn, Frank Ntilikina and Lance Thomas. The Knicks (19-21) were shorthanded Saturday, but not to that level.

Evan Fournier was sidelined with a thigh contusion and the Knicks still were missing point guards Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose. Randle seemed to play with the same sort of emotional edge he did after the sluggish start Thursday, but he still struggled, shooting 6-for-19 — with the six field goals matching his six turnovers.

And he wasn’t alone. Immanuel Quickley stepped into a starting role, had 18 points and shot 7-for-11, but RJ Barrett (19 points) shot 33% and was 1-for-5 from the free-throw line. Alec Burks shot 2-for-11 and is 3-for-21 in the last two games.

"I think that’s just going to happen sometimes," Barrett said. "There’s a lot of games during the season, and for some reason, today was that day."

The fans may forgive and forget the gesture and words of frustration from Randle — after all, in New York City, who hasn’t uttered a similar phrase? — but if this sort of struggle continues, the fans might not be so gracious.

"I don’t know if he was pressing," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "They loaded up on him pretty good. That was anticipated. I thought he made a number of really good plays in the first half where the defense collapsed and he sprayed it out. We got some really good quality looks from the three. To win on the road, you have to play 48 minutes, and we didn’t do that tonight.

"When you’re shorthanded, your margin of error is small. You have to play hard as hell, you’ve got to play defense, you’ve got to rebound the ball, you’ve got to share the ball."

New York Sports