NEW YORK (AP) — Julius Randle scored 57 points in one of the greatest nights in Knicks history. The Minnesota Timberwolves had the most sizzling start in the NBA this season.
Even in an era where the scoreboard totals seem to balloon higher all the time, this spectacular display of shooting and scoring felt different.
“It was a movie,” Minnesota’s Taurean Prince said.
The Timberwolves overcame Randle’s performance by riding a sizzling start and a steady finish to beat New York 140-134 on Monday night.
Prince scored a season-high 35 points and went 8 for 8 from 3-point range for the Timberwolves, while Mike Conley added 24 points and 11 assists. His three free throws gave Minnesota the lead for good with 2:17 remaining.
Randle’s final basket, a three-point play with 42 seconds remaining, cut it to 137-134, but he was beaten to a rebound by Kyle Anderson on Minnesota’s next possession, and a cutting Prince scored inside with 10.1 seconds left before Conley made a free throw after Randle was called for a technical foul.
That left Randle kicking himself for not making the defensive play on the night the offenses ruled.
“Jalen (Brunson) got a defensive stop, we’re down three, it’s my job to come up with that rebound, 14 seconds left,” Randle said. “If we do that, we have a chance to win the game — or not win the game, but at least tie the game. So I didn’t get the job done.”
The Timberwolves made more than 70% of their shots in the first half and led by 17, before Randle carried the Knicks back with a franchise-record 26 points in the third quarter.
He finished tied with Richie Guerin behind the only two 60-point games in Knicks history, Carmelo Anthony’s 62 on Jan. 24, 2014, and Bernard King’s 60 on Christmas Day in 1984. But the Knicks had their three-game winning streak snapped.
The All-Star forward threw down a powerful driving dunk in the first quarter but did most of his damage from much farther away. Randle made eight 3-pointers in surpassing his previous career high of 46 points.
The Wolves made their first 10 shots and didn’t cool off much the rest of the game, finishing at 61.4% and snapping a three-game skid despite playing without Anthony Edwards for a second straight game because of a sprained right ankle.
“We’ve got shooters, baby,” center Rudy Gobert said.
Gobert’s basket made the Wolves the first team this season to make its first 10 shots, and Knicks fans loudly cheered when Jaden McDaniels missed Minnesota’s next attempt, nearly seven minutes into the game. The Wolves led 42-32 after one, shooting 16 for 22 (72.7%).
Prince’s 3-pointer made it 70-53 with 4:35 left in the first half, but the Knicks finally put together some stops to cut it to 79-70 at the break.
Then Randle came back and went 9 for 10 in the third, hitting 5 for 6 beyond the arc. He raised his hand to fault himself after the one miss, an ill-advised attempt that missed the rim by a couple feet. But he could hardly be blamed for trying the way almost everything else he threw up was going in.
Timberwolves: Coach Chris Finch said Karl-Anthony Towns was “really, really close” to returning from his calf injury.
Knicks: Swingman Josh Hart arrived for the game wearing the No. 32 jersey of his great uncle, Yankees great Elston Howard.
NEW COACH, FAMILIAR FACE
Former Knicks coach Rick Pitino will be back on the sidelines at Madison Square Garden for some St. John’s games after being hired by the Red Storm on Monday. The school announced he’d be introduced during a news conference Tuesday at the arena.
“When I was a young coach, I used to watch his practices at Providence,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “So he’s good man, great coach and I know he’ll do a great job with St. John’s.”
Knicks: At Miami on Wednesday
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Mike Conley (10) drives to the basket against New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 20, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)