Knicks’ Julius Randle has a strong night defensively

It looked like a layup for Josh Richardson. After a Jalen Brunson turnover in the first quarter, the Spurs guard was ahead.

Julius Randle didn’t see it that way. He ran back and denied Richardson a layup attempt that not only blocked an easy basket for the opposition, but led to two Immanuel Quickley free throws.

“Coach [Tom Thibodeau] always says don’t just give up on the game, don’t give up on the performance. It really is,” Randle said after the Knicks’ 117-114 win over the Spurs on Wednesday at the Garden. “He took a few steps towards me. I see that he is looking back and measuring his steps. Just chased him down and blocked him and Jalen did a good job of not giving up either. He got back into the game and won the ball.”

The chase-down rejection was part of a strong night on the defensive end for Randle, who had four blocks on the season. That made up for poor shooting from the star forward, who hit just nine of 26 shots from the field. He had 25 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists.

Julius Randle blocks Josh Richardson’s layup in the first half of the Knicks’ 117-114 win over the Spurs.

“I don’t know, I’m just playing hard. I was trash, so I had to do something,” Randle said, referring to the blocks. “My teammates are doing a good job, they just keep me motivated. I was a little mad at myself. It just revs up my motor a little bit to play a little bit harder.”

Obi Toppin was available Wednesday night, but his plan was more vague. For now, he will be used on a case-by-case basis until he gets up to speed after missing the previous 13 games with an undisplaced fracture in his right fibula, Thibodeau said. Toppin did not play in the win over the Spurs.

When he’s ready for full practice, the Knicks coach will have a decision to make: stick with his nine-man rotation and bench one of his backup centers, Jericho Sims or Isaiah Hartenstein, or extend the rotation that’s been working. good Thibodeau Toppin made it clear he will be part of the second division after saying he will make the decision at the right time. But his return will undoubtedly affect others.

RJ Barrett had played well with the backup before suffering a right index finger injury that plagued the last four games. Randle stood out by getting bigger minutes. Corrections will need to be made. The Knicks are 9-5 in the 14 games Toppin has missed.

“There has to be flexibility there,” Thibodeau said. “So we’re going there, but we want Obi back.”

Knicks guard Derrick Rose (knee) was available but did not play after missing Monday’s game. … The Spurs are without point guard Devin Wassel, the second leading scorer, because of a sore right knee. … The Knicks’ next 12 games are against Eastern Conference opponents.


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