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Julius Randle furious after foul call helps 76ers beat Knicks in OT

Julius Randle #30 of the Knicks heads for

Julius Randle #30 of the Knicks heads for the net as Dwight Howard #39 and Tobias Harris #12 of the Philadelphia 76ers defend in the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden on March 21, 2021. Credit: Getty Images/Elsa

Julius Randle has rarely lost his temper or shown more than the slightest bit of emotion this season as he has ascended to the role of the Knicks’ leader. But he nearly exploded after his key turnover in a five-point loss in Brooklyn a week ago, and on Sunday night, he looked ready to boil over again.

His postgame Zoom call with the media lasted only seconds before he was yanked out to try to salvage some of his fine money. A 101-100 overtime loss to the Philadelphia 76ers and a strange sequence of events in overtime had Randle ready to explode.

"Blown call by the officials," a visibly angry Randle said after his foul set the stage for Tobias Harris to hit two free throws with 5.3 seconds left, erasing the Knicks’ one-point lead. "Not enough contact for them to call the play. I don’t know who it was — Nerlens [Noel] — but clearly, he had possession [of a defensive rebound]. After all the fouling and everything that was going on, for them to call that and decide the game is [expletive] ridiculous. They have to do a better job. It’s too many games like this."

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was on the court arguing even as the Garden was clearing out. Like the loss in Brooklyn, the replays seemed to confirm the officials’ version of events, but that didn’t ease the pain of another effort that fell just short.

With the Knicks up 100-99, Harris and Shake Milton missed on driving attempts and Noel pulled down the rebound, but it was ruled that Randle had shoved Harris from behind for a loose-ball foul with 5.3 seconds left.

Thibodeau argued the call and was on the floor begging for a challenge as Harris waited at the free-throw line. He had missed two free throws late in regulation, but this time he hit both shots to put the 76ers ahead.

Randle then drove the length of the floor for a jumper that rimmed out as time expired.

"They said we didn’t challenge — two officials, tough calls," Thibodeau said. "That’s all I’m going to say about it. It’s pretty obvious.

"I haven’t watched it yet. Usually at the end of the game, there’s going to be — as they would say — marginal contact, incidental contact, every other kind of contact. All I know is that we were getting hit a lot and there wasn’t marginal contact on that."

The game was played with only two officials as Dannica Mosher was not available because of the league’s health and safety protocols.

In speaking with a pool reporter, referee Courtney Kirkland said, "The foul call was a loose-ball foul called against Julius Randle, that was the foul call. Coach Thibodeau did not signal for a challenge during the same interaction with the officials. In order to initiate a challenge, the coach must signal for a challenge during the same interaction, and he did not do so."

While Thibodeau went out on the floor to argue for a challenge, Kirkland explained, "Yes, that was way after the fact. The coach must initiate the challenge immediately during the same interaction with the officials when he calls the timeout."

After appearing trapped in the right corner, Randle had sent the game into overtime with a three-pointer with 6.4 seconds left in regulation. The shot hit the rim, hit the backboard and dropped.

Reggie Bullock’s three-pointer gave the Knicks a 100-96 lead with 1:10 left in overtime, but Harris hit a three-pointer 14 seconds later. Danny Green, the 76ers’ other Long Islander, hit two straight three-pointers earlier in OT.

In the third quarter, the 76ers' Tony Bradley fell to the floor under the basket, and while he was on the floor, he grabbed Randle by the knee, yanking him down. Randle immediately reacted, and when Ben Simmons tried to push him away, Randle angrily smacked his arm away. The officials reviewed the play and ruled a Flagrant 1 against Bradley and a technical foul on Randle.

Randle scored 24 points, Alec Burks 20 and RJ Barrett 19 for the Knicks (21-22), whose last three losses have come by a total of nine points against the Nets and 76ers. Noel had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Milton had 21 points and Harris added 20 for the 76ers (30-13).

New York Sports