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Knicks crush Rockets 122-97 to start road trip with W

Julius Randle, a Texas native, logged 31 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists as the New York Knicks dismantled the Houston Rockets 122-97 in the first game of the final road trip of the regular season.

Randle, shot 13-22 from the field and scored 15 of his total points in the third quarter to give the Knicks their 36th win of the season.

“We turned it up I the second half. Made good plays, defense tightened up and we busted the game open.”

Julius Randle

They also clinched a spot in the play-in tournament which New York is trying to avoid from their current place in the Eastern conference standings.

“Obviously, you have to put as many things in play as possible. The first thing you have to do is qualify. You’re striving to be the highest seed possible. As things fall into place, don’t get lost in what we’re trying to accomplish. Focus in on Houston. You have go get in first and you go day-by-day.”

Tom Thibodeau

Trailing by 14 points in the third quarter, the Rockets scored 5 consecutive points to cut the lead at single digits but Randle nullified their effort, the Knicks started to build off that and by the end of the quarter they were already leading 93-71. The final period was just a formality against the NBA’s worst team.

Derrick Rose scored 24 points off the bench, shooting 8-11 from the field including 3-4 from behind the arc. RJ Barrett scored 21, Immanuel Quickley dropped 13 and Reggie Bullock added 11.

The Rockets, who lost to the Knicks at home for the first time since 2015, were led by Christian Wood’s 19 points. Kelly Olynyk scored 17 and collected 10 boards, Kevin Porter Jr. scored 14 and Kenyon Martin Jr. dropped 13 buckets off the bench.

However, as good as things look on the paper there’s also some negative news following this win.  With 7 minutes to go in the third quarter and the Knicks leading 73-61, Nerlens Noel sprained his ankle after a collision with Kelly Olynyk who fell while trying to draw a foul. Noel left the court and hadn’t returned. There’s no current status for his condition yet and coach Thibodeau will have to look for options.

Taj Gibson, who replaced successfully Noel for the rest of the game, scored six, grabbed five boards and had a game high plus- of 36. Obi Toppin is getting better and better lately and there’s also Norvel Pelle on the bench who could take Gibson’s backup role case he’ll get the start.

Up-next:

The Knicks (36-28) will take on the Memphis Grizzlies (32-31) tonight from 9:00 pm.

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