In a game that should’ve resulted in a win for the New York Knicks, the No. 13 team in the East walked away with a 111-106 victory. Jalen Brunson was sidelined with a right hand injury that came in New York’s 127-120 loss to Miami the night before, but there was still no excuse for the Knicks to lose to the Magic.
With no Brunson, all of the attention was on Julius Randle and Immanuel Quickley. The latter finished with a team-high 25 points (as did Quentin Grimes), but while Randle had 23 points, he struggled. Not only was his shot not falling as he shot 7-of-20, but he let his temper get the best of him.
Right after the first half came to a close, Randle approached referee Leon Wood about a play where he felt that he had been fouled. Tom Thibodeau said earlier in the season that Randle’s teammates need to do “a better job of helping him walk away” when his emotions get the best of him, which is what Quickley tried to do.
However, Quickley’s actions weren’t enough to prevent Randle from picking up a technical. Nor did Quickley’s actions seem to be appreciated by Randle.
Knicks’ Julius Randle speaks to media for first time since meltdown involving Immanuel Quickley
Julius Randle didn’t address the media after the loss to the Magic or after practice on Sunday, so ahead of the Knicks’ game against the Rockets on Monday, he was finally asked about the incident.
Randle said: “What happens within our team happens within our team. I’m not going to speak on specifics. I already handled things. At the end of the day, we’re a team, we’re good and we’re just focused on winning.”
Quickley addressed the issue after the game on Thursday and he attributed it to being something that happens when you have players that are trying to win.
"“Honestly, everybody trying to win — that’s all I can really say,” Quickley said. “Sometimes that happens. That’s part of sports, part of what it takes to be a professional athlete. It’s not just basketball — it’s other things with that. So, you know, everybody trying to win.”"
RJ Barrett defended Randle’s actions by saying:
"“First of all, I think we all get angry,’’ Barrett said. “He’s competing. He’s competing. People may have seen a video or whatever [of Randle’s behavior], but we all feel like that. We’re trying to compete to win, so we completely understand his competitive spirit. It’s also one of the things that makes him really good.”"
While professional athletes understandably get caught up in the heat of the moment as they are true competitors, it was understandably disappointing for many Knicks fans to see Randle snap on Quickley. However, now that the issue has been addressed by both sides, it’s time to put it in the rearview mirror and focus on finishing the rest of the season strong before the playoffs start.
New York needs the best version of Randle, and it’s up to nobody else but him to show that he’s capable of being one of the team’s leaders. Luckily, Randle and the team had three full days off and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Let’s hope that the Knicks are ready to take on the final weeks of the regular season.