If it wasn't strong already, Julius Randle continues strengthening his case to become a first-time All-Star.
On Monday night, he exploded for a career-high 44 points (14-22 FGs), carrying the Knicks to their third straight win by defeating the Atlanta Hawks 123-112. His performance, which also included nine rebounds and five assists, made him the first Knick since Stephon Marbury in 2005 to post 40/5/5 and 5+ threes.
The Knicks had gone 183 team games without a 40-point scorer before Julius Randle dropped 44 in a win vs the Hawks tonight. That was the longest active drought without a 40-point scorer by any team.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 16, 2021
The next closest franchise is the Thunder with 108 team games. pic.twitter.com/FpZqEXzNAU
En route to the 44, one shy of his career-high, Randle also knocked down a career-high 7 3-pointers. He also became the first Knicks player, not named Carmelo Anthony, to score 44 or more in a win since 2007.
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He started off this game on fire, scoring 17 (7-of-8) in the first quarter, helping the Knicks outscore the Hawks 39-28. Atlanta fought back in the second, making it a 66-63 game at halftime. Then, Randle responded, scoring 23 in 22 second-half minutes including this buzzer-beater in the final minutes:
Julius Randle dropped a 44-piece tonight 😨- Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 16, 2021
Knicks get the W pic.twitter.com/LNjKxYM3Qo
Over the final 4:12 of this game, he scored or assisted on 12 of the team's game-sealing 16-8 run. The win is the Knicks' third straight, the third time they won three in a row this season - the most for a season since the 2017-18 season.
They now improve to 14-15 for the season, their best 29-game start since 2017-18, which puts them at sixth in the East standings.
For the season, Randle is averaging career-highs across the board - 23.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 5.6 assists while making a career-high 1.8 3-pointers a game at a career-high efficiency of 40.6. Those numbers, make him the first player since Larry Bird to average 20/10/5 on 40+ 3P% in a season.
That comparison alone should earn Randle his first career All-Star nod.
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