After 12 technical fouls last season, tied for the top 20 among all NBA players, Julius Randle said he made a friendly bet with someone in the Knicks organization to cut that number to three this year.
“I already messed it up,” Randle joked after practice in Tarrytown on Tuesday.
After arguing that he was fouled while driving to the basket, Randle fumbled for the third time this season and fourth time in the third quarter of Sunday’s win over the Kings. That doubled the number of technicals previously assessed in the Knicks’ first 26 games.
“I was good until the last game, man. What happened, right? I’ve had my back,” Randle said, adding that he’s made a conscious effort not to argue with the refs as much this season.
“When I was working with us as a player, it was as if I said I would never be able to coach. It’s a lot to deal with. I understand they can’t get every game right. You know me. I am a passionate football player. I play with a lot of emotion, a lot of action. So sometimes it gets the best of me. But it was a conscious task going into the summer to limit this. “
Tom Thibodeau said after Sunday’s game that the coaching staff and Randle’s teammates should have removed him from the game after he was hit with the first technical foul. After Tuesday’s practice, the Knicks coach added that “everybody needs to be aware” to avoid such collisions.
Randle, who scored all 27 of his points in the first half of the Knicks’ fourth straight win before games in Chicago on Wednesday and Friday, admitted he had to “try not to get the first point.”
“I can’t put my team in that position,” Randle said. “I don’t want to talk about what happened and whether it was right or wrong.
“No matter what, I can’t put my teammates in that situation and it was selfish of me. I have to be better.”
Randle’s scoring has improved over the Knicks’ last seven games, averaging 27.1 points per game that began with a season-high 36 points on Nov. 28 at Detroit on Nov. 29. Sunday’s game probably would have been his fourth with at least 30 points had he not been thrown.
“I hope the last one is overturned. But we will see. I’m really trying my best,” Randle said. “Sometimes my emotions get the best of me. But that’s just what comes with it.
“I’m just trying to invest more and adapt to what’s going on with our team. How can I help my boyfriends? How can I perform at my best for my team? Next game mentality. So the more I focus on it, the more external distractions [don’t] becomes a thing.”
The 6-foot-6 power forward added that physically, “this is probably the best I’ve felt in a couple of years, probably since my last year with the Lakers in 2017-18.”
The Knicks’ defensive numbers have also improved during the winning streak, thanks to increased roles for second-year guards Quentin Grimes and Myles McBride.
“I just feel like we’re in a better flow, rhythm. The game is much easier when you don’t take the ball out of the basket. “Stop and run the offense, that’s a good way to play,” Randle said. “[I’m] Try to help the team in the moment, game by game. Do what’s best for the team. Help us to win. I just try to make plays and help as much as I can, no matter what I’m asked to do, no matter what the game is on any side of the field.