New York’s Julius Randle scored seven of his 21 points in the final 93 seconds Monday and the Knicks held off Orlando 91-84 to open an NBA holiday slate. Randle shot only 5-of-19 from the floor but added 17 rebounds while R.J. Barrett had 22 points and 10 rebounds as the Knicks, who ripped Boston on Sunday, won on consecutive days for the first time in 41 tries over more than three years. “Back-to-back is always tough for us,” Randle said. “We had the lead the whole game, played well. They made a run. Stayed together.
“I couldn’t throw a rock in the ocean but we got it done. It’s a great win for us.”
Later games on the US holiday paying tribute to civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. include Milwaukee at Brooklyn, pitting NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks against former MVPs James Harden and Kevin Durant, and Golden State at the reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers.
“The NBA always has a couple games throughout the schedule that you want to be a part of and this is definitely one of them,” Randle said. “So it was great to get a home win on this day and honor his legacy.”
In a sloppy contest at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks led 19-13 after the first quarter, boosted the margin as high as 14 points early in the fourth quarter, only the squander the edge as the Magic made a late charge only to suffer a sixth straight loss.
Orlando made 12 3-pointers, half of them in the fourth quarter and the biggest coming when Terrence Ross sank a desperate 3-point heave with 1:41 remaining as the shot clock was expiring for an 81-80 Magic lead, their first since the middle of the opening quarter.
But the Knicks closed with an 11-3 run for the victory, Randle sinking five free throws in the decisive span.
“Down the stretch I’m always going to have confidence to make plays,” Randle said. “And that’s what I tried to do.”
New York (7-8) sank just 31-of-87 shots (35.6%) from the floor while the Magic (6-8) only made 29-of-86 (33.7%).
Nikola Vucevic led Orlando with 24 points and 14 rebounds while Ross added 19 off the bench and Aaron Gordon had 18 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists.
Hawks wear King jerseys
In King’s hometown, the Atlanta Hawks debuted special black jerseys with the initials MLK on the front in a 108-97 victory over visiting Minnesota.
The Hawks, who had lost six of their prior seven games, improved to 6-7 despite 24 turnovers while the Timberwolves fell to 3-9 with their ninth loss in 10 games.
D’Andre Russell scored 25 points to lead the Hawks while Clint Capela added 23 points and 15 rebounds and Trae Young contributed 20 points and 13 assists for Atlanta.
De’Andre Hunter scored a game-high 31 points for the T-Wolves.
San Antonio rolled to a 125-104 victory at Portland behind 22 points from LaMarcus Aldridge, 20 points and 11 assists from DeMar DeRozan and 21 points each off the bench for Patty Mills and Rudy Gay.
Portland’s Damian Lillard scored a game-high 35 points.
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