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Julius Randle scores 10 points in 3:35 as Knicks hold off depleted 76ers

The Knicks' Julius Randle reacts during the second

The Knicks' Julius Randle reacts during the second half of an NBA game against the 76ers on Monday in Philadelphia. Credit: AP/Matt Slocum

PHILADELPHIA — A night earlier, in the wake of a disappointing loss, Julius Randle talked about needing to be more vocal, providing the energy and leadership the Knicks need.

On Monday, with the Knicks teetering on what would have been a disappointing loss to a shorthanded 76ers squad, Randle did more than just provide words. He delivered much-needed baskets.

Randle scored 10 of his 31 points in a span of 3:35 late in the fourth quarter, extending the Knicks’ lead from one point to 11 en route to a 103-96 victory that lifted them to 7-4.

Kemba Walker contributed a three-point play in that 13-3 run as the Knicks tried to avoid the 76ers’ three-point efforts and dodge the debris (a ball) tossed at them from the fans beginning to stream for the exits. It was their first win in Philadelphia in nine games since April 8, 2016.

After hitting a pair of three-pointers, Randle grabbed an offensive rebound and put back a tough shot in traffic to give the Knicks a 102-91 lead with 1:11 to play, finally putting the undersized, undermanned 76ers away.

He flexed in celebration and RJ Barrett came up behind him and attempted to chest-bump him, knocking him to the floor. Randle did a push-up and got up to continue the celebration.

"Damn, bro. It was crazy," Randle said. "I was celebrating and I think I slipped. And RJ chest- bumped me and took my legs out and it was a wrap. It hurt, though. I’ll probably be sore tomorrow. Listen, man, you got to react fast. I’m glad we won. If we were losing, it probably would’ve taken me longer to get up."

He seemed OK with the soreness and a day off Tuesday in exchange for surviving this night.

"He was a monster all the way around," Tom Thibodeau said. "I thought the way the game started, the energy that he was playing with, he set the tone defensively . . . And then the way Julius closed the game was one big shot after the next. He did it in a variety of ways. It was the three, attacking the board. And when he plays like that, it makes us a different team."

"That’s what All-Stars do," Walker said. "This is his team, man. When it’s winning time, got to go out there and get a win any way you can. He came with it down the stretch, made huge shots, made huge plays. It’s a big win for us."

Furkan Korkmaz had 19 points and Andre Drummond had 14 points and 25 rebounds for the 76ers (8-3).

Facing a 76ers squad minus Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Isaiah Joe, all because of NBA health and safety protocols, the Knicks came in knowing that the best and maybe only shot for Philadelphia would be to bomb away from beyond the arc. The 76ers shot 13-for-40 from three-point range.

The Knicks built a 19-point lead in the second quarter, led by 14 at halftime and dodged disaster down the stretch as Philadelphia never could tie it.

The 76ers fans were mostly streaming for the exits after Randle’s last bucket, but play was halted momentarily as a ball was thrown from the stands onto the court. The remnants of the crowd were mostly Knicks fans by the end and the game ended with a loud "Let’s Go Knicks" chant.

The Knicks seemed to be coasting in the first half, but with 4:16 left, Nerlens Noel got tangled up under the basket with Danny Green. Green got up but Noel did not as play went to the other end. Noel, who missed all of the preseason and the first seven games of the regular season with a left knee and hamstring issue, was ruled out for the second half with what the team called right knee soreness.

With the Knicks already without Mitchell Robinson, who was ruled out with a hip flexor injury, that left only Taj Gibson and Jericho Sims as centers for the Knicks. But with Embiid out for the 76ers, that task became easier to handle.

On this night, Randle carried the Knicks to the finish line, delivering his leadership in more than words.

"I want him to be vocal," Thibodeau said. "I want everyone to use their voice. That’s a big part of leadership. But I also want them backing it up with their actions, and actions will always reflect one’s priorities. And so, when they’re doing the right things, good things are going to happen. The defense was good. The rebounding effort was good. Sharing the ball, taking care of the ball was good. There’s still — we won today; there’s a lot to work on. It doesn’t end. We can’t feel too good about ourselves. And that’s what we’re learning. In this league, it’s dangerous every night."

New York Sports