Julius Randle matched his season-high scoring total with 44 points to lead the New York Knicks to their fifth straight win after beating the Dallas Mavericks 117-109 on the road in American Airlines Center on Friday.
Randle had 21 first-half points and 35 through three quarters, and he shot 16-of-29 overall and 6-of-11 from three-point range. The 26-year-old also scored 44 in a 123-112 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 15.
Knicks forward RJ Barrett scored 13 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, including the team's first eight in the frame to give New York a 91-82 lead. The Knicks never led by fewer than six points from that moment forward.
Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic scored 22 points on 7-of-16 shooting but tied his career-high assist total with 19. Kristaps Porzingis led the Mavs with 23 points and 12 boards.
The Knicks improved to 30-27 with the victory, and the Mavs fell to 30-25.
Knicks PF Julius Randle: 44 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists
Knicks SF RJ Barrett: 24 points, 8 rebounds
Knicks PG Derrick Rose: 15 points, 5 assists
Mavericks PG Luka Doncic: 22 points, 19 assists, 8 rebounds
Mavericks C Kristaps Porzingis: 23 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks
Mavericks F Dorian Finney-Smith: 13 points, 7 rebounds
Randle Rolls Again, Knicks Win Again
The 2019 free-agency season is not a pleasant memory for Knicks fans, as they lost out on all the A-list names.
What resulted was the team signing a glut of power forwards and point guards, with the biggest free-agent contract going to Julius Randle.
The ex-Los Angeles Laker and New Orleans Pelican became the de facto best player on a bad Knicks team that finished 21-45. The Knicks also endured midseason coaching and front-office changes in hopes of somehow turning the fortunes of a team that hadn't won the NBA Finals since 1973.
Hopes weren't particularly high entering this season, but optimism has reigned in the Big Apple thanks largely to a player who was seen as a consolation prize of sorts two years ago.
On Friday, Randle finished the third quarter with a step-back three-pointer that gave the Knicks a 83-79 edge.
Randle's step-backs were a consistent problem for the Mavs, and the forward nailed this one over Doncic:
He was also an excellent distributor, though, perhaps never better than when he found Barrett for a three to put New York up four near the end of the second quarter:
Randle got back to his scoring ways in the third, including nailing this tough mid-range jumper through contact:
He later hit this spinner on Maxi Kleber for good measure:
By game's end, he joined some incredible franchise company and did something no player had done in 36 years:
He also found his name on a list alongside ex-Knick great Carmelo Anthony:
Randle entered the night averaging 23.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and 6.0 assists per contest, and it's easy to believe he will finish the season with more hardware (and perhaps head coach Tom Thibodeau will too). His fantastic scoring pace of late (36.7 PPG in his last three matchups) helps at least.
Now the Knicks head back to New York for a six-game homestand and a huge wave of momentum thanks largely to Randle, who has his team on the precipice of a top-four Eastern Conference playoff seed.
Barrett's Fourth-Quarter Barrage Dooms Mavs
Despite Randle's heroics, the Mavs had a chance to take the lead going into the fourth quarter. Down 80-79, Dallas big man Kristaps Porzingis missed a three with 21.2 seconds left. Barrett grabbed the rebound, and Randle hit a three to put New York up four.
Still, the Knicks didn't have an insurmountable lead, and Randle hit the bench to rest for the start the fourth.
The door was open to make a run, but Barrett shut that door.
The second-year pro started going to work within the first minute, backing down shooting guard JJ Redick and putting home a layup despite the foul:
He hit the free throw to finish the three-point play.
Redick hit a three in response to cut the lead back to four, but Barrett went to work, beating center Dwight Powell's defense to finish once again in the paint:
Two possessions later, Knicks point guard Derrick Rose found Barrett in the corner, and the 21-year-old delivered with a corner three to put New York up nine:
Barrett's hustle, grit and power were on full display, and he grabbed his own miss for a putback layup later in the quarter to give New York an 11-point edge.
His efforts bought the Knicks time to rest Randle, and by the time the All-Star returned, New York had a 96-87 lead. Randle took over from there, scoring nine points in the final eight minutes.
This night belonged to Randle, but it was Barrett who prevented the Mavs from making the matchup a one-possession game at any point in the fourth quarter. And that helped New York glide to victory.
Both teams will play at home Sunday.