New York Knicks All-Star Julius Randle believes his team is figuring things out defensively after crushing the Phoenix Suns 102-83 on Monday.
The Knicks began the season shaky on the defensive end, posting the seventh-worst defensive rating in the league through their 16 games in November, giving up 115.1 points per 100 possessions.
They were a different team in December, holding teams to 108.2 points per 100 possessions for third-best defense, and that included a five-game losing streak at the end of the month in which they conceded at least 113 points in each loss.
But after getting back on track with a 108-88 win against the Houston Rockets on New Year’s Eve, the Knicks held their second straight opponent under 90 points for the second time this season, illustrating just how imposing they may be at that end of the season. the ground when they are on.
Their back-to-back defensive masterclasses have propelled the Knicks to the eighth defensive position of the season, with every team ahead of them essentially already set for the playoffs.
Against the Suns, Randle received MVP chants from the Madison Square Garden crowd as he led the way with 28 points (7-of-18 shooting), 16 rebounds and six assists.
It was a great way to start January after he put together excellent numbers of 28.3 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists on 47.8 percent shooting in December, rediscovering the form that made him an All-Star in the 2020-21 season.
Speaking to the media after the game, the man who has endured his fair share of criticism from Knicks fans said “it’s good to be on the good side of The Garden,” before discussing what has been behind his strong form. .
“Defensively, we had to go back to our ways,” Randle said. “When we won eight in a row, the defensive end was big for us. We felt the pace and chemistry coming back on that side.”
Randle also talked about how the addition of point guard Jalen Brunson in the offseason has helped his game.
“Honestly, it’s a lot easier [to score this season]”, he said. “I attributed a lot of that to Jalen [Brunson]obviously.
“Also [Immanuel Quickley], and our guards… I won’t have to work as hard to get buckets or score. So the game is much easier for my body.”
When asked if he had thought about a possible return to All-Star Weekend, Randle said he hopes he gets another chance to share that experience with his loved ones.
“Obviously, you work hard to put yourself in a position to do that,” he said. “So that would be awesome. [to play in the All-Star Game].
“I’m lovin ‘it. Not necessarily for me, obviously it’s great, but I love being able to experience it with my family because they’re the ones that really make the real sacrifice and have led me to dedicate myself to the game the way I’ve been able to in the summers, and nights. after night.
“So I love being able to let them enjoy it and see the rewards and things like that, so that’s why it’s important. But to me, whatever the team needs night after night, whatever it is, I just want to help the team.”