Julius Randle loses cool to swing Knicks’ loss to Clippers


LOS ANGELES — Julius Randle has made a concerted effort to cut back on his technical fouls this season, but he lost his cool with the refs and threw a temper tantrum on the bench Saturday to contribute to the Knicks’ latest loss.

The All-Star forward was assessed a technical foul — and had to be restrained by head coach Tom Thibodeau while jawing with other coaches, teammates and team security — after Randle elbowed Clippers center Mason Plumlee in the face on a defensive rebound with 0.3 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Kawhi Leonard and Plumlee knocked down all three free throws to turn a one-point Knicks lead into a two-point deficit. And the Clippers extended that slim cushion to as many as 14 points in the fourth, sending the Knicks to an otherwise loosely called 106-95 loss in their first of back-to-back games at Crypto.com Arena.

“I mean, I wasn’t good today. I was bad. But the officials today? Pssh. I’ll just leave it at that,” Randle said after the game. “All you gotta do is watch the game and see what you see going on.”

Julius Randle, who was held down by Ivic Zubac (left) and Paul George earlier in the game, lost his cool later, receiving a technical foul near the end of the third quarter in the Knicks’ 106-95 loss to the Clippers.
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Julius Randle argues with an official after receiving a technical foul late in the third quarter of the Knicks’ loss.

Asked if he believed the refs were letting too much physical play and hard fouls go with a “no blood, no foul” mentality earlier in the game, Randle replied: “Oh, there was f–king blood out there, for sure. I ain’t rolling with that. There was blood out there, for sure. … They got their lick, I got my lick back. That’s all it was.”

In the end, it marked the Knicks’ third straight defeat following a nine-game winning streak as they fell to 39-30 overall ahead of their game Sunday against the Lakers. Starting point guard Jalen Brunson has missed 2 ½ of those three losses with a bruised left foot.

The defeat dropped Thibodeau’s team into a virtual tie with the idle Nets, who technically are percentage points ahead for the No. 5 playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

Julius Randle shoots during the Knicks’ loss to the Clippers on March 11.
Immanuel Quickley scores during the Knicks’ loss to the Clippers on March 11.
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Randle also endured another horrendous shooting performance (5-for-24) and finished with 19 points. He is shooting 28.6 percent (18-for-63) over his past three games. The technical foul marked his eighth of the season after he was slapped with 12 last year.

“There was definitely a physicality to the game. So it is what it is,” Thibodeau said, before adding of the need to restrain Randle, “Yeah, heat of the battle. Sometimes you can get frustrated. It’s an emotional game. Just keep playing.”

Fill-in starter Immanuel Quickley scored 26 points, RJ Barrett had 11 points and Mitchell Robinson recorded 14 rebounds and two blocked shots for the Knicks. Leonard scored 38 points and Paul George had 22 for the Clippers (36-33).

Kawhi Leonard drives to the rim during the Clippers’ win over the Knicks on March 11.
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Randle and Barrett had only scored two points apiece — on 3-for-14 combined shooting — with under two minutes remaining in the first half. Randle, however, netted seven over the final 1:17 and the Knicks led 49-47 at intermission.

Barrett and Quickley knocked down 3-pointers early in the third quarter to push the lead to five. Barrett managed nine points in the quarter, but after the Randle meltdown, the Knicks trailed 76-74 entering the final period. Leonard’s three-point play gave the Clippers a 92-82 lead midway through the fourth.

“I don’t know. I want to look at the replay,” Thibodeau said when asked of his view of the Randle foul. “I know they were tangled up and there was a lot going on prior to that. Sometimes that ends up being a byproduct of all the other stuff.”

Kawhi Leonard scores during the Clippers’ win over the Knicks on March 11.
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Unlike Toronto’s Fred VanVleet, who was fined $30,000 last week for openly criticizing an official by name, Randle said he had nothing personal with the referees Saturday: Tom Washington, Bill Kennedy and Brandon Adair.

“I actually like ’em. But like I said, it was pretty obvious,” Randle said.

As for his tantrum at the Knicks’ bench after the call, Randle admitted that everyone was “just trying to restrain me.”

“They thought I was trying to walk to the officials, but I was just trying to walk off, blow some steam,” Randle added. “They were just doing their job, trying to protect me.

“But when you’re in the middle of that, and you’re getting held back, frustrated, trying to walk off, blow some steam, it was just miscommunication, that’s all it is.”

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2023-03-11 23:58:00