Randle Outduels Sabonis! Barrett = Kato. 5 Reasons Why NY 110 Indiana 107 on 2-27-21

Julius Randle outdueled Domantas Sabonis to carry the Knicks to this important win, helped by sidekick RJ Barrett, in vaulting the Knicks over Indiana and into 4th place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Here are 5 reasons how it went down:

1. Randle Over Sabonis

The last time these teams met, there was clearly a personal duel on the court between Randle and Sabonis — the two banged each other throughout the 4th quarter. Since then, earlier this week, Julius Randle was named as an All Star Reserve, over Sabonis. Deservedly so as his numbers are better and his impact has been huge. But Indiana fans on Twitter felt differently. Sabonis was named as a replacement reserve All Star a few days later. Setting up this matchup on a Saturday night at the Garden.

The final line:

  • Julius Randle: 28 pts on 12-22 (2-5 from 3, 2-2 FT’s), 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals — leads NY to win.
  • Domantas Sabonis: 16 pts on 5-10 (2-2 from 3, 3-5 FT’s, 7 rebounds, 9 assists, 0 steals.

Randle won the personal matchup and the game. “I take the matchup personally,” said Randle afterwards.

2. Barrett Sidekick

If Julius Randle is the Knicks’ Batman, than RJ Barrett is Robin; or maybe better stated — Kato to Randle’s Green Hornet. With the Knicks down 5 (98-93) late in the 4th quarter, “Kato” Barrett took over — nailing a 3 with 3:58 left to pull the Knicks within 2 and then next time down taking the ball to the lane, hitting the bucket and 1 — for a 3-pt play and Knick 99-98 lead with 3:32 left. Just like that the Knicks were in the drivers seat with a clear path to a win.

Julius Randle batman-ed in a 3 off a Barrett penetration and pass the next time down and then Barrett made a driving layup on the next play for 11 straight Knick points and a 104-98 NY lead with 2:22 left.

Barrett had 24 points on 8-17 (4-6 from 3, 4-7 free throws), 7 rebounds, 2 assists.

3. Noel

Indiana hung tough on scores by T.J. McConnell and a 3 by Edmond Sumner. Nerlens Noel stepped up for a huge interception and steal of an Indiana attempted pass to Sabonis inside with 1:15 left, Sabonis falling on him for a foul. Noel hit both free throws to put NY up by 3.

Taj Gibson went out with an ankle sprain in the 1st half and with Mitchell Robinson of course out with the hand injury, Noel had to hold the fort all night at center — playing 41 terrific minutes, and scoring 8 pts (on 3-4, 2-2 free throws), 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, and many heady plays including the huge intercept and free throws to make it 106-103 NY with 1:02 left.

4. The Rose/Ntilikina Steal Bails Out Barrett

After a Myles Turner missed 3 with 51 seconds left. Julius Randle powered into the lane for a foul by Sabonis, 2 free throws and a 108-103 NY lead with 29 seconds left — putting the Knicks on the verge of victory and the game into free-throw mode. However, Sabonis lucked in a 3 — overshooting badly but the ball banked in from straight away, and then RJ Barrett was sent to the line with 15 seconds left, NY up by 2.

Barrett missed both free throws.

Indiana had second life. Down 2, they inbounded after a timeout, with 14.6 seconds left — Derrick Rose tipped a Sabonis pass to redirect it and Frank Ntilikina surged out to intercept it and take it in the other direction. He was fouled, was perfect on the free throws for a 110-106 lead and ballgame. Almost.

Indiana inbounded with 2.9 seconds left and Derrick Rose accidentally fouled/fell on TJ McConnell in the backcourt near the sidelines; McConnell heaved the ball toward the basket but it was called a foul not in the act of shooting, with 0.4 seconds left. McConnell went to the free throw line, hit the first, purposely missed the second but Indiana wasn’t able to get the ball and it was over.

Rose started at point again with Elfrid Payton out, and was mostly terrific — 17 pts on 6-11 (1-3 from 3, 4-4 free throws), 11 assists and 4 steals. He made a couple of turnovers midway thru the 4th however, and then that final foul miscue — he looked a little tired — 38 minutes for the 32-yr-old Rose who has had knee issues in the past — it will be good to get Payton back to reduce the minutes Rose needs to play.

Ntilikina got full credit for the steal by the Ntilikina Hive on twitter, even though Rose initiated it. Frank played a solid game and is a nice piece to bring in off the bench, especially now that he seems to be able to use his soft touch to knock down 3’s with regularity, and hit free throws at an over .800 clip.

5. Knicks Out-Pace Indiana’s Early 16-Pt Lead

Indiana raced out to an 8-0 lead in this game, held a 9-pt lead at the end of the 1st quarter, and pushed the lead to 16 points — 46-30 — with 6:15  left in the 2nd quarter. Doug McDermott was a large part of that — hitting 3’s and driving to the basket all night.

But midway thru the 2nd the Knicks clamped down their D and made their run back, on the shoulders of Randle and Barrett and Derrick Rose, who hit a 3 to end the half to incredibly put the Knicks back on top, 54-52. A 24-6 run to end the half.

The teams played evenly in the 3rd, and the Knicks tried to pull away early in the 4th.  Immanuel Quickley hit a 3 with a foul for a 4-pt play to give NY an 87-78 lead with 11 minutes left in the game.

But Indiana kept battling back — tieing the game and eventually taking a 3-pt lead with 6:37 left. Until NY buckled down for the finish.

The Boxscore



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