New York Knicks' Julius Randle reacts during the second half...

New York Knicks' Julius Randle reacts during the second half of the team's loss to the Toronto Raptors in an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in Toronto. Credit: AP/Chris Young

Last season, Julius Randle was the No. 1 reason the Knicks were able to nab the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and make their first playoff appearance since 2012-13.

And this season, as unfair as it is to blame the Knicks’ woes on any one player, he is the No. 1 reason the Knicks are in a tailspin.

After what appeared to be a career-changing 2020-21 season, the Knicks gave Randle a $117 million contract extension with the belief that he would lead them to the next level. They also brought in two new starters, Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier, to help energize the offense.

Those additions are looking pretty questionable, but so is the play of Randle, who has been inconsistent at best all season.

The Knicks (12-15) head into Tuesday night’s game against Stephen Curry and Golden State having lost three straight, six of seven and 14 of 21.

In the Knicks’ last four losses, Randle averaged 13.5 points and shot 17-for-48. He missed a potential game-winning three-pointer in a loss to the Raptors.

On Sunday, when the Knicks were without starters Alec Burks and RJ Barrett and bench energizer Obi Toppin and needed Randle to step up against the reigning NBA champion Bucks, he turned the ball over seven times and shot 2-for-9.

"I just try to continue to make the right plays," Randle said after the loss to Milwaukee. "Like, I can start forcing it, but what would that say about my trust in my guys? So I just try to go out there and make the right plays. At least my intentions are to make the right plays. Just try to take what the game gives me."

Coach Tom Thibodeau said after Sunday’s loss that Randle was in a tough position.

"In all fairness, this is an entirely different group out there," Thibodeau said, referring to his starting Derrick Rose and Quentin Grimes against the Bucks. "He made a number of good plays out there and he’s adjusting and teams have loaded up on him pretty good.

"Tonight, he tried to make the right plays and that’s the most important thing. Some nights are not going to be great. But as long as you’re trying to make the right plays, I see the work that he puts in. I have the utmost confidence in him. The whole team does. So just come back and get ready for the next one."

Randle, the engine to the Knicks’ offense last season, is averaging 19.1 points, five fewer than the 24.1 he averaged last season. He is shooting 32.6% from three-point range, down from 41.1% last season.

It won’t get any easier for Randle and the Knicks on Tuesday night. Golden State is 22-5 and Curry will have plenty of motivation in the nationally televised game. He needs to hit only two three-pointers against the Knicks to break Ray Allen’s career record of 2,973.

Curry shot 5-for-15 from outside the arc and scored 26 points in Golden State’s 102-100 victory over Indiana on Monday night, He entered Monday averaging 27.1 points, 6.3 assists and 5.4 made three-pointers per game.

The Knicks again will be without Barrett and Toppin, who entered the COVID-19 health and safety protocols before the Bucks game. Burks is expected to return.