NCAA Tournament, Knicks, Nets, Rose

Julius Randle And The Knicks Desperately Need To Lock In

Following a three game win streak, the Knicks had a chance to separate themselves as the five seed. Rather, New York fell in all three of their games over the past week. So instead of extending their lead over the Heat and Nets for the fifth seed, New York stayed in relatively the same position as they are now two games ahead of both teams. A run for the fourth seed and home court advantage is now nearly impossible with the Knicks trailing the Cavs by five and a half games.

The Julius Randle Dilemma

The three-game stretch that Julius Randle has just had was almost indescribable. In the first of three games against the Timberwolves, Randle probably had his best individual performance in his entire career. Randle scored a career high 57 points on 19-29 from the field, 8-14 from three, and 11-13 from the free throw line.

This eruption was really the only reason the Knicks kept this game close. New York fell 140-134 to a Minnesota team missing their two best players in Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards. It was a dreadful performance defensively, as the New York defense allowed the Timberwolves to shoot 61.4 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from three.

For New York as a team, this loss was an incredibly painful one to swallow. Minnesota was missing their two star players, and the Knicks were in a spot where every win matters. From Randle's perspective, he did everything in his power to win this game, but fell short. This dynamic would quickly shift on Randle and New York.

Two days after the Timberwolves loss, the Knicks faced a pivotal matchup with the Heat. Miami came into the night three games behind New York , so a win could position them as a threat to the five seed that New York holds. The Heat would do exactly that as they defeated the Knicks 127-120, inching them ever so closer in the standings.

For Randle, he was far from the player that showed up against Minnesota a few nights prior. Randle only managed 15 points on 7-16 from the field and 1-5 from three. He did have nine assists and six rebounds, but he also turned the ball over four times.

The stat sheet would not be the only issue that Randle would run into this game. Nearing the end of the game, Randle had some words with a referee and was clearly frustrated. Jimmy Butler found some amusement from Randle's complaining which in turn created a viral picture of Butler making faces at Randle.

Unfortunately for Randle, he would once again run into issues with a referee the next night against the Magic. But rather than an opposing player taking exception to his complaints, it would actually be his teammate Immanuel Quickley. In another now viral clip, Randle clearly had some harsh words for Quickley even though Quickley was only trying to stop Randle from receiving a technical foul.

This type of exchange is something that no team wants to see happen between their players, especially in the middle of a wildly important game. The unfortunate part for the Knicks was that their star player here was the one in the wrong. Quickley is trying his best to stop Randle from receiving a technical foul, but Randle does not care. He seemed to have zero concern about the consequences of his outburst. Of course, the Magic hit the technical free throw making the halftime lead nine instead of eight, and that deficit would be too much for the Knicks to overcome as they fell 111-106.

For Randle, it is imperative that he changes the way he interacts with the referees. All these interactions do is hurt the team and their chances of winning. Being the star player of the team means that you are a leader, but the way Randle has acted recently is far from the way a leader should act.

There is no denying that Randle has the talent to be a star player on a successful team. We have seen that this entire year for the Knicks, as the duo of Brunson and Randle has revitalized this franchise and has made them a real threat in the Eastern Conference. But if Randle is truly committed to taking this team as far as possible come playoff time, he needs to realize the error in his ways and show more respect to the referees and his teammates. With only seven games remaining in the season, the Knicks need him to make that change right now.