Julius Randle lit a candle for Kobe Bryant before leading Knicks to biggest win of season


Julius Randle came into Thursday night’s game in Boston with added emotion, as the day was the anniversary of former teammate Kobe Bryant’s tragic passing.

Bryant had a profound impact on Randle’s early NBA career with the Lakers, and he was on Randle’s mind throughout the day leading into Thursday’s game against the Celtics, which turned out to be the Knicks’ biggest win of the season.

Randle was a big part of that win, pouring in 37 points while shooting 52 percent from the field, and hitting two key free throws in overtime.

After the game, Randle’s wife Kendra revealed on Instagram that Randle had gone and lit a candle for Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, who was also tragically killed in the 2020 helicopter crash. Randle kept in contact with Kendra throughout the day talking about Bryant’s memory, and he brought that with him onto the court at TD Garden Thursday night.

It certainly seemed to help carry Randle through the thrilling overtime victory.

“It was on my heart heavy,” Randle said after the game. “Just texting with my wife back and forth before the game. It’s a tough day. Vanessa, the whole family, I send my prayers for you guys today. Love you guys dearly. It’s a tough day, but hopefully he’s looking down and was proud of the way the game was played, because he’s an anchor. He’s a pioneer of this game.”

Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1

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