Julius Randle #30 of the Knicks puts up a shot...

Julius Randle #30 of the Knicks puts up a shot in the second half against Isaiah Livers #12 of the Detroit Pistons at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023. Credit: Jim McIsaac

TORONTO — When the Knicks arrived at Scotiabank Arena on Friday night, Julius Randle was one of the first players on the court for pregame warmups, earlier than his usual on-the-court work, as he tested his right knee.

He was listed as questionable with right knee inflammation, and while he was on the floor, coach Tom Thibodeau described him as a game-time decision. But for Randle, the decision already had been made. As usual, he penciled himself into the lineup.

Randle has played every game for the Knicks this season — including 38 minutes Thursday in a 118-112 win over Detroit that could have and should have included some rest time if the Knicks had taken care of the task at hand against a team that took its 16th straight loss.

 In the first 18 games this season, he played more than 30 minutes in all but two games. He led the NBA in minutes played three seasons ago and was fifth last season. He is 21st this season (629) and second on his own team, as Jalen Brunson is 12th (639).

“Yeah, it’s great,” Thibodeau said. “I think it sets a tone for your team. And we’re very fortunate in that regard to have not only him, but RJ [Barrett] and Jalen are the same way. And if he can go, he’s going. And I have great respect for that.”

Randle played the first 77 games last season before suffering an ankle sprain  that sidelined him for the final five games, limited him in the postseason and required surgery when the season ended.

So it was no surprise that if Randle could push himself onto the court, he would make a go of it, particularly when the Knicks have three days off before their next scheduled game — the In-Season Tournament quarterfinal game in Milwaukee on Tuesday.

It’s the push that also has had Randle in every game this season, even when he was struggling to find his form in the first days while still working his way into shape from the offseason surgery.

Through the first six games of the season, he averaged only 13.7 points per game and shot 27.1%, including 22.5% from beyond the arc. He wasn’t his usual attacking self, searching for rhythm and perhaps confidence that he could push himself aggressively on the ankle.

“Despite my first two weeks or two and a half weeks when I was just trying to find my body and rhythm and that kind of stuff, it’s definitely coming back to me,” Randle said after recording 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists on Thursday after a 25-point, 20-rebound performance against the Hornets on Tuesday. “It just gives me a level of patience, assuredness and confidence that just being patient with the game and let the game happen.”

Entering Friday night, in the 12 games since that slow start, Randle averaged 23.7 points per game and shot 46.6% (although still just 31.3% from three-point range).

“Just attacking the basket,” Randle said. “Aggressively getting to the paint and executing.”

Randle is not the only Knick  to push for an every-game approach, as six of his teammates also have played in every game. The only rotation players to miss a game are Barrett, who sat out five games with a sore knee (two games) and a migraine (three games), and Quentin Grimes, who sat out two games with a sprained left wrist.

And the performance of those around Randle — Barrett at the start of the season when Randle was struggling and Brunson just about every night — has eased some of the play-in and play-out burden. Brunson led the Knicks with 42 points on Thursday.

“It’s big. It’s big,” Randle said. “Because we know he scores the ball. He’s one of the best in the league at creating his own shot and scoring the ball and getting other people involved and creating rhythm for others.”

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