DALLAS (AP) — Julius Randle scored 44 points in his best game in his hometown, leading the New York Knicks to a 117-109 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night for a five-game winning streak, their longest in seven years.
RJ Barrett had 24 points and eight rebounds. Derrick Rose added 15 points with fellow backup guard Alec Burks sidelined by COVID-19 protocols.
“I was locked in and focused,” said Randle, whose third career 40-point game came a night after scoring 32 in a 116-106 victory at New Orleans. “I always love playing at home in front of my friends, in front of my family. I never take those moments for granted.”
The Knicks (30-27) are three games over .500 for the first time since December 2017, about two months before a season-ending knee injury for Kristaps Porzingis in what ended up being his final game for the Knicks before ending up in Dallas in a blockbuster trade.
It’s the longest winning streak for New York since an eight-game run in March 2014. The Knicks haven’t finished above .500 since 2012-13.
“We try not to get wrapped up in any of that stuff,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “If we take care of all the little things, the big things will take care of themselves. We have a belief that we can win. That’s probably the most important thing.”
Luka Doncic scored 22 points and tied a career high with 19 assists, while Porzingis had 23 points and 12 rebounds. But the Mavericks couldn’t follow Doncic’s electrifying game-winning 3-pointer in Memphis two nights earlier with another victory.
Randle, who had 10 rebounds and seven assists, scored the first 10 New York points and ended up 16 of 29 from the field. He finished one 3-pointer shy of his season high, going 6 of 11, including one in the final seconds of the third quarter to give New York an 83-79 lead going to the fourth.
The Dallas native matched his season high in points and finished a point shy of his career high of 45 with New Orleans in March 2019. Randle topped his previous best of 30 points in the Mavericks' arena, also with the Pelicans two years ago.
It was Randle’s sixth straight game with at least 20 points against his hometown team. He is the first Knicks player since Bernard King in 1985 with at least 40 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a regular-season game.
“He got going early tonight,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “When his shot-making is like it was tonight, it’s just very, very difficult. We needed to do more to make it harder on their whole team.”
Barrett scored 10 of the Knicks’ first 13 points in the fourth quarter, helping push the New York lead back to double digits for the first time since early in the second quarter.
Doncic, who barely beat the buzzer with a lunging floater off one foot that was behind the 3-point line in a 114-113 victory over the Grizzlies two nights earlier, was just 2 of 9 from beyond the arc as Dallas finished 15 of 45 from deep.
Knicks: After Randle scored 15 of the first 23 New York points, Rose scored seven in a row for the Knicks, capped by a 3-pointer for a 30-23 lead. The Knicks led 34-25 after shooting 70% in the first quarter. ... Reggie Bullock finished with 11 points and did a good job pestering Doncic. ... Thibodeau didn’t offer many details on Burks’ status.
Mavericks: With the score tied at 52 in the final seconds of the first half, Porzingis was called for a technical foul after he couldn’t control a possible tip-in rebound while battling Randle for position. Porzingis turned to shout at an official as he ran up the court, drawing the whistle. Bullock made the free throw, and Barrett hit a 3 with 1.5 seconds left for New York’s 56-52 halftime lead. ... Tim Hardaway scored 16 points, Josh Richardson had 14 and Dorian Finney-Smith added 12.
Knicks: New Orleans visits Sunday to start a season-high, six-game homestand that wraps up a stretch of nine of 11 games at home. It’s their second meeting in four days, one on each home court.
Mavericks: Sacramento visits Sunday as the lone remaining Western Conference opponent Dallas hasn’t faced. All three games in the season series are scheduled in a span of two weeks.