Julius Randle hears boos turn to cheers in bounceback night at MSG


The last time the Knicks enjoyed a blowout win at home before Wednesday night, Julius Randle was still hearing boos from The Garden crowd.

There were none to be heard in Wednesday’s rout of the Mavericks.

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Just days after hearing jeers with New York up 20 over the Spurs, Randle heard cheers throughout Wednesday’s win during a much-needed bounceback performance, nearly logging a triple-double while helping lead the starting lineup to one of its best collective performances of the season.

“I had a feeling he was gonna come out aggressive,” RJ Barrett said. “He played such a great game on both ends.”

Randle still didn’t have his shooting stroke, finishing 6-for-17 from the floor, but he nailed three straight after missing his first two shot attempts of the night and rode that momentum to 17 points while grabbing 12 rebounds. He also finished with a team-high eight assists after drawing double teams all night and kicking out to open shooters like Barrett, who finished with 32 points on the night.

“He was great,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Just attacking the rim, putting a lot of pressure on the rim, making the right reads, getting the ball out and not fighting pressure, forcing the defense to collapse, making great effort plays, he got us going.”

It hasn’t been an easy season for Randle, fighting the expectations brought on by last year’s All-Star campaign while also battling frustrated fans who hope to see him bring back last year’s version of himself. Heading into Wednesday night’s game, he was shooting just 32.6 percent from the floor over his last three games, and an awful 15.8 percent from downtown. But he looked much more confident and aggressive on Wednesday, which Thibodeau sees as an inevitability rather than any kind of adjustment.

“Julius is a pro,” Thibodeau said. “He’s navigated the ups and downs of this league for a long time. He knows where he stands in the league, and he knows what he has to do. There was no change to his approach in practice.”

Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1

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