Randle strong as Knicks extend Raptors' losing streak
NEW YORK (AP) — Facing at least two months without their man in the middle, the New York Knicks showed off the balance they believe can keep them winning without him.
RJ Barrett added 27 points and Jalen Brunson had 21 points and nine assists for the Knicks, who had a new starting centre for the first time this season after Mitchell Robinson sustained a stress fracture in his left ankle. The injury will require surgery for the NBA leader in offensive rebounds and a recovery of at least eight weeks.
“He covers up for a lot of our mistakes, but we’ll figure it out,” Randle said.
New York broke open the game in the fourth quarter behind two of its bench players. Grimes, who has struggled to find a rhythm this season and recently lost his starting job to Donte DiVincenzo, had a 3-pointer and Josh Hart also scored during a 7-0 run that turned a tie game into a 115-108 lead.
Grimes made another 3 with the Knicks holding a four-point lead with 3:36 to play, and a 3-pointer followed by another basket by Hart made it 129-119 about a minute later.
“Our whole bench unit, I’m very, very pleased with the way they’re playing," Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said, even though they were also without reserve guard Immanuel Quickley because of knee soreness.
“You need everybody. We’ve got to get everyone playing well together to bring the best out of each other and if we do that, we’ll have a good chance to win.”
Hart finished with 16 points for the Knicks, who were coming off losses last week to Eastern Conference powers Milwaukee and Boston.
O.G. Anunoby scored a season-high 29 points for the Raptors, who dropped their fourth straight N-B-A game, two of them against New York. Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam and Dennis Schroder all had 20 points.
“It was kind of a shootout,” Anunoby said. “Both teams scored a lot and they made a lot of tough shots. We had some breakdowns. They had breakdowns too, but they just made a bunch of tough shots.”
The Knicks were making their only home appearance in their first nine December games. They play their next five on the road, starting Wednesday in Utah, and aren't back at Madison Square Garden until Dec. 23 against the Bucks.
They began the game with Jericho Sims at centre, with Thibodeau opting to keep Isaiah Hartenstein, the normal backup to Robinson, with the second unit. Hartenstein finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, while Sims grabbed seven boards.
Randle scored 15 points in the first quarter but Barnes' 3-pointer tied it at 35 going to the second. The Knicks had a 66-60 advantage at halftime after Barnes again hit from behind the arc for the last basket.
Anunoby made three 3-pointers and scored 15 points in the third as the Raptors closed to 98-97 going to the final 12 minutes.
Raptors: Host Atlanta for a two-game series Wednesday and Friday.
Knicks: Visit Utah on Wednesday to begin a five-game trip.
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