Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Late Tuesday night in the visitor's locker room at Staples Center, Julius Randle walked to his stall with tears in his eyes.
Minutes earlier, he'd found out that his grandmother died.
As he made his way through the locker room, he was being comforted by teammates, coaches and other members of the organization.
After three days away from the team, Randle returned to New York on Saturday night and suited up for Sunday's game against Miami.
"I didn't feel ready, but being around these guys is like family to me," he said.
Randle turned in one of his best games as a Knick, scoring 26 points and making several key fourth-quarter plays in New York's come-from-behind 124-121 win over Miami. He also had eight rebounds and four assists.
"My grandmother left an incredible legacy and mark on my life and my family," Randle said after the win. "It's been tough. (It will) still be tough. But tonight was special. I really felt her out there the whole time."
Randle was effective in the closing minutes of the game. He had seven key points and a steal with under 2:30 to play. He stole the ball from James Johnson and made a three-pointer to give New York a 116-114 lead with 2:16 to go.
"It was incredible," interim head coach Mike Miller said of Randle's performance.
The Knicks snapped a five-game losing streak, doing so against one of the Eastern Conference's top teams. New York rebounded from a large deficit -- 14 points with 3:33 to play in the third -- on a night when they were without starter Marcus Morris and backup guard Frank Ntilikina.
"We bent a couple times, we didn't break," Miller said.
Randle is the third player this season to lose a close family member. Dennis Smith Jr.'s stepmother and Reggie Bullock's sister died earlier this season. Miller was asked how the organization responds when a player suffers a death in the family.
"The biggest thing is the players know that, as a group, collectively, we respect their privacy and the things they need to do individually to take care of their families," he said. "Organizationally, everybody does a great job of letting them know, 'We're here for you and we'll do anything you need.' I think that's a clear message throughout."
Randle said he appreciated the support of ownership, executives, coaches and his teammates while he mourned his grandmother.
"It affects all of us. I cried when these dudes lost their family members," he said, referencing Smith Jr. and Bullock losing close family members. "It's tough. I felt the same compassion from them losing my grandmother. It's tough. Got to keep going."
Barrett headband here to stay?
RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox both had strong outings against Miami.
Barrett had 23 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. He hit 7 of 10 shot attempts.
Knox had 17 points (6-of-8 shooting), five rebounds and two assists off the bench. The second-year wing showed resiliency on Sunday, rebounding from a rough stretch of games.
"He made a big impact through the game but in the first half really have us a big lift," Miller said of Knox. "He played with a force about him, getting downhill and he was aggressive."
Barrett went 8-for-10 from the free-throw line. He's shooting 74 percent from the charity stripe in his last seven games.
Barrett wore a headband for the first time in his NBA career on Sunday because, he said, he hadn't gotten a haircut. He said his teammates were joking around about it.
After his strong outing against the Heat, Barrett said he'd probably wear the headband again against Milwaukee on Tuesday.