The road warrior Knicks are finally winners in Canada again.
Behind Julius Randle’s 32-point double-double and a clutch bucket from Jalen Brunson, the Knicks held on Friday night for their fourth straight win, 112-109.
It snapped an 11-game losing streak on the road against the Raptors, with their previous victory coming way back in 2015 during Kristaps Porzingis’ rookie campaign. The Knicks (22-18) also tied the Celtics for the NBA’s second-most road victories (12) this season — behind only the Nets — and it has them alone at sixth in the Eastern Conference.
Heroics from Brunson, who scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, were necessary because the Knicks nearly blew a 16-point lead with about four minutes left. Brunson’s and-1 in the final 30 seconds – which occurred after he blew past Fred VanVleet — finally nailed Toronto’s coffin.
Tom Thibodeau, as a result, won his 100th game as Knicks coach — the most since Mike Woodson.
Randle started the evening as if chasing Wilt Chamberlain. He scored 19 points in the opening 7 1/2 minutes, and his five 3-pointers during that stretch fell one short of the franchise record for most in a quarter.
“I felt good,” Randle said. “Shots were falling.”
He cooled off considerably, but still managed his ninth straight game with at least 25 points. He has also recorded double-digit rebounds in 12 of the last 13.
It was another performance to boost Randle’s All-Star chances, although the fans clearly weren’t convinced as he was left off the top-10 in the first returns of the voting released Thursday.
“The way he’s playing is just unheard of,” Jalen Brunson said. “He’s playing really well, he’s playing with confidence. It’s awesome to see how he bounced back. He still has a lot more to prove. Not just to everyone else, but to himself because has a whole other level he can unleash.”
The Raptors (16-23) are among the league’s biggest disappointments after last season’s surge to the fifth seed. It has prompted speculation that team president Masai Ujiri will sell at the deadline, with OG Anunoby already being shopped, according to reports.
Toronto had defeated the Knicks at MSG a little more than two weeks prior, with Pascal Siakam dropping a career-high 52 points. This time, Siakam managed just 18 points on 4-of-14 shooting. Their backcourt of VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. combined for 55 points.
But the Raptors have no size and couldn’t deal with Knicks center Mitchell Robinson, who grabbed 18 rebounds — including eight offensive — before he fouled out in the closing moments.
Earlier this season, the Knicks snapped a much longer drought in Denver — 17 years — by beating the Nuggets in the Ball Arena.