Knicks beat Bulls for fourth straight win of the season

The Knicks’ late-season upswing continued through four games and they barely needed Julius Randle to beat the Bulls 109-104 at the Garden on Monday.

For the second day in a row, Alec Burks hit the game-winning corner with 3 points and 22 seconds before a great feed from Immanuel Quickley that extended the Knicks’ lead to four.

Burks finished with 27 points and hit 5 of 10 3-pointers and RJ Barrett pumped in 28 points but missed a turnaround jumper and a free throw in the last minute.

While Randle was on the bench for most of the fourth quarter, Obi Toppin (17 points) gave the Knicks a spark as they swept back-to-back to keep their tournament play-in hopes — barely — alive.

The Knicks are 9-4 in their last 13 games, but were 4 1/2 games behind Atlanta when the Hawks overcame the Pacers.

They won their fourth consecutive high of the season without needing anything from Randle, who, despite a sore quadriceps, opted to compete on the second night of a consecutive race and finished with five points (1 of 9 from the field).

Evan Fournier, background, reacts after Alec Burks scored a three-point shot during the second quarter of a game against the Bulls March 28, 2022 at Madison Square Garden.
Evan Fournier reacts after Alec Burks hits a 3-point shot.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“The most important thing is that we play against all these young players and they gain valuable experience,” said Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau. “And you’re never eliminated until you’re eliminated. I don’t want a resignation spirit in our team. I want to keep playing. We’ll keep playing until we’re eliminated.

“We have boys who are growing. I don’t believe in the other stuff [tanking]. We had a busy road schedule and this team is responsive. It’s a good, solid win for us.”

Center Mitchell Robinson was also a stunner with 16 points and 12 rebounds, and not just on putbacks. He also caught a number of alley-oop feeds, including a beauty from Barrett.

“Sometimes they’re ‘eight,'” snapped Robinson. “Sometimes they are removed from the walls.”

RJ Barrett of the Knicks smiles as he walks down the court alongside Mitchell Robinson during the first quarter of a game against the Bulls March 28, 2022.
The Knicks’ RJ Barrett beams as he walks down the court alongside Mitchell Robinson.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

A full free agent, Robinson faced back-to-back two teams from the Pistons and Bulls, who discussed him with the Knicks at the close.

“That’s something we really need – second chance points,” Robinson said. “We can get an extra 2 pointer or 3. So I try to rely on offensive rebounds as much as possible.”

The Knicks survived DeMar DeRozan’s 37 points, in part due to Burks’ big groove.

Burks kept a low profile as usual, hitting the 3-pointer that sealed the game and stealing Sunday against the Pistons. Burks doesn’t like speaking to the media and didn’t come into the interview room after both games.

He let Barrett speak for himself.

“Big games in a row, big games in a row for AB and we needed it so I’m always happy to have him on our team,” Barrett said.

It’s a pity that this increase probably came too late.

“We fight, we fight no matter what. We’re a really good team,” said Barrett. “We’re disappointed with how we started the season, but we’re a very good team and we’re playing to these victories. We scratch and scratch and play very well, so when you have something like that you try to build on that.”

Meanwhile, MSG Networks’ post-game show piled on Randle for not celebrating with his teammates after the win. Analyst Wally Szczerbiak said, “I wish Randle would join the party.”

Julius Randle
Julius Randle finished with just five points against the Bulls.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

As usual, Thibodeau defended Randle, who didn’t look 100 per cent after missing three games last week with a sore quadriceps and played 31 minutes on Sunday.

“You can play well if you’re not shooting well. His 13 rebounds were huge,” said the coach. “A lot of guys wouldn’t play. he wants to play I have great respect for that.”

There are those fans who stare at the dwindling lottery odds, but Thibodeau can’t even fathom that train of thought.

“We’re getting a lot of information,” Thibodeau said. “That’s good. Seems like everyone has a different idea of ​​how this should be approached. It should be addressed what’s best for the team.”

The Bulls took a 28-17 lead, hitting 11 of their first 13 shots. Thibodeau angrily called a timeout after Zach Lavine fed Ayo Dosunmu in lane and he dribbled in for an undisputed dunk. The Bulls led by 12 points after one when the Knicks missed their first seven 3-pointers.

But the Knicks got rolling in the second quarter, sparked by consecutive corner 3s from Toppin and a furious, propelling left flush from Barrett.

Then Burks started. He made three straight baskets and scored 13 points in the second quarter, giving the Knicks a 53-50 lead at halftime.

“Good, solid win for us,” said Thibodeau. Knicks beat Bulls for fourth straight win of the season


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