PREVIEW: Julius Randle, New York Knicks try to wallop Washington Wizards again

Mar 21, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Julius Randle #30 of the New York Knicks walks off the court after the loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at Madison Square Garden on March 21, 2021 in New York City.The Philadelphia 76ers defeated the New York Knicks 101-100 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Elsa/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

An agonizing one-point loss to the best team in the Eastern Conference resulted in Julius Randle being infuriated with the officiating. His response was to come out firing and rarely miss from 3-point range.

With Randle coming off one of his biggest nights of his season, the New York Knicks hope to see another standout performance from their All-Star on Thursday night when they host the struggling Washington Wizards for the second straight game.

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The Knicks will get a chance to go back over the .500 mark for the fourth time since Feb. 27 after rolling to a 131-113 win over Washington on Tuesday night. The win occurred two nights after Randle was upset about a foul call in the waning seconds of overtime that led to Philadelphia’s Tobias Harris hitting the game-winning free throws to hand New York a 101-100 loss.

“No, I didn’t need motivation,” Randle said. “My motivation is just to win games and do my part for this team. So, I didn’t need any extra motivation.”

Randle was fined $15,000 Tuesday for criticizing officials and then scored 37 points in New York’s second-highest scoring game of the season. It was Randle’s fifth game of least 30 points, and he tied a career high by hitting seven 3-pointers to raise his percentage to a career-best 42.8 percent — up from 27.7 percent last season when New York was 21-45 and among eight teams not invited to the NBA bubble last summer.

“It feels a lot different,” Randle said. “This overall group, our preparation, how we approach games, our confidence, everything is just a lot different. Guys are rolling with it. We’re having fun doing it. We’re winning games.”

New York lost four of six before Tuesday, a stretch that included a five-point loss in Brooklyn on March 15, when Randle was upset at Scott Foster for a last-second traveling call, and a three-point loss in Philadelphia two nights later when the Knicks scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.

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Washington started 6-17 and then won eight of 11. Since a 119-117 home win over the Los Angeles Clippers on March 4, the Wizards have lost seven of eight by allowing 124.9 points per game, and star Bradley Beal is hoping the team actually shows up Thursday night.

“I don’t think we even arrived to the arena tonight, honestly,” Beal said. “We were still in the hotel today and we didn’t bring any focus, any energy, and we didn’t damn sure play defense. So that’s why we lost.”

Beal scored 22 points on 6-of-15 shooting while Russell Westbrook was held to 14 points. It was only the seventh time Beal finished under 25 points and it occurred two nights after he was held to 17 during a 113-106 loss at Brooklyn.

After the Wizards allowed 130 points for the ninth time this season and an opponent to shoot at least 50 percent from the field for the 14th time, Beal did not hesitate to rattle off the numerous things they did wrong.

“You can control playing hard, you can control being physical, you can control running the floor, you can control boxing your man out, you can control setting the screen, you can control coming off the screen very hard, you can control not turning the ball over,” Beal said. “It’s a lot of stuff that we can control that we don’t do.”

–Field Level Media