Julius Randle heard a good quantity of boos throughout pregame introductions, however the Knicks’ highest-paid participant forcefully denied strategies that he’s seeking a trade within the offseason or that he isn’t dedicated to the group long run.
“That’s not true, bro. That’s just not true, simple as that, it’s not true at all,” Randle mentioned Wednesday night time. “If it didn’t come from me, it ain’t true.”
Randle scored 21 factors with seven assists, however the Knicks couldn’t totally erase a 12-point deficit within the fourth quarter as their season-best profitable streak was halted at 4 video games in a 125-114 loss to the play-in certain Hornets on the Garden.
The loss dropped the Knicks’ tragic quantity for elimination from play-in competition to at least one with 5 video games remaining, after the No. 10 Hawks’ blowout victory in Oklahoma City.
“Just keep concentrating on what we’re doing and get better, and then you’re not eliminated until you’re eliminated,” Tom Thibodeau mentioned. “And then when you are, you assess what you want to get done.”
Randle’s intermittent frustration and unhappiness has been evidenced by varied cases this season, together with a thumbs-down gesture and profane quotes directed at followers and a number of blowups with officers.
This yr has been a far cry from the two-way love affair Randle loved with New York one season in the past, when he was named an All-Star for the primary time in his profession and the NBA’s Most Improved Player, incomes him a four-year contract extension value $117 million.
The Post reported Wednesday that there are some across the league who imagine that Randle has been performing in a “James Harden type of way,” suggesting that he may try and pressure a trade within the offseason.
Thibodeau was incredulous when requested a couple of additional declare by a neighborhood radio host this week — which was couched as an “unconfirmed rumor” — that Randle already had expressed that he wished out following Monday’s victory over Chicago on the Garden
Asked straight if he believes that Randle “wants to be here,” Thibodeau replied: “Yeah. So as a coach, you coach the players that you have. And you love them all. And I do. If you play for me, I love you. It’s really that simple. The challenge for us is to bring the best out of each other.”
Randle beforehand had asserted his dedication earlier this season, however he pressured after the sport: “My answer ain’t changing, bro.”
“My goal and what I work hard for is to make the city proud and make the fans proud,” he mentioned. “I play for my teammates; I play for my family, and it is as simple as that. It is nothing more than that. From the inside looking out, it is what it is, and I understand that a lot of times you have to do your game, do the talking, but I love this city, my family loves it here and I love being a Knick.”
Randle has been fined over $100,000 by the league this season for varied infractions, together with for saying “shut the f–k up” in a January press convention to elucidate his use of a thumbs-down gesture to booing followers at one sport on the Garden.
Randle additionally threw the ball away and walked straight into the locker room following Monday’s win. He scored 5 factors on 1-for-9 taking pictures in that sport, and followers had chanted as soon as once more for understudy Obi Toppin.
Randle admitted the boos and chants have been hardest on his 5-year-old son, Kyden, and his household.
“That’s probably where most of my frustration comes from. I have my 5-year-old son that’s there, who is obsessed with the game of basketball, loves the game of basketball and he doesn’t understand what’s going on,” Randle mentioned. “That’s most likely my largest frustration — coming from him.
“But at the same time, you have to understand it comes with the territory. The narrative can always flip. I understand that. I understand it’s New York City. I understand how passionate our fans are. You just kind of have to live with the good and the bad.”
Following the pregame boos, Randle seemingly acquired the house crowd again on his aspect by nailing two early 3-pointers, and the Knicks shot 61.9 p.c from the ground in trailing 31-29 by means of one quarter. RJ Barrett completed the primary half with 17 factors to maintain the Knicks inside three, 58-55 at intermission
The Knicks trailed by a dozen, 95-83, with 10:31 remaining, however a dunk by Barrett and a transformed three-point play by Immanuel Quickley (16 factors) pulled them inside two with slightly below six minutes to go. But a windmill slam and a nook 3 by Bridges prolonged the Charlotte cushion again to 11 within the closing minutes.
“I thought we were a step behind all night, and I thought the ball got where they wanted it to,” Thibodeau mentioned. “We didn’t feel good about the way we were playing defensively all night.”