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Julius Randle had stressed that the Knicks “definitely [had] to take advantage” of the fact NBA scoring leader Bradley Beal wasn’t playing for the Wizards on Friday night.
And Randle, a potential All-Star forward, got back on track after one of his worst offensive games of the season, finishing with 24 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Knicks to a 109-91 victory in Washington.
The win came with a price, however. Knicks starting center Mitchell Robinson fractured his right hand late in the second quarter after recording a double-double (10 points and 14 rebounds) in less than 20 minutes of playing time. He will be reevaluated Saturday in New York.
Derrick Rose contributed 14 points and six assists with four steals in 20 minutes off the bench in his second game back with the Knicks (12-15) after Sunday’s acquisition from the Pistons. Rookie Immanuel Quickley scored 16 points and Elfrid Payton finished with 12.
The Wizards’ Russell Westbrook finished one rebound shy of a triple-double — 23 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds — in the absence of Beal, who leads the NBA with 32.8 points per game.
The Knicks are keeping an eye on Beal as a possible trade target. They’re looking, too, at Rockets star Victor Oladipo, who also is slated to miss Saturday’s game against the Knicks at the Garden with a foot and ankle injury.
“In the NBA, I think it’s very difficult because every player is a great player. You can’t get here without being a great player, so the important thing for us is to not let our guard down at all,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “They spread you out and put a lot of pressure on your defense, so we’re going to have to be right and ready right from the start of their game.”
Westbrook scored a bucket and assisted on three others for a quick 8-4 Washington lead, but the Knicks embarked on an 8-0 run and extended it to 16-3 for a nine-point cushion midway through the first quarter. Robinson totaled four dunks and grabbed seven rebounds in the period, which ended with the Knicks holding a 30-23 advantage.
Rose and Quickley combined for six points off the bench early in the second quarter, and Rose flipped an entry feed to Obi Toppin (eight points) for a dunk for a 40-31 lead barely four minutes into the session.
Rose also found Randle for a stuff a few minutes later for a 45-34 lead. Randle had endured his poorest shooting game of the season (4-for-18) and scored just 12 points in Tuesday’s two-point loss at Miami.
“[Rose is] gonna be extremely helpful,” Randle said before the game. “It gives us not just a veteran presence but a guy who can go out there and create plays, just a steadiness about him, just a confidence about him.
“So I’m extremely excited, I think he’s gonna help us win a lot of games. Obviously, he’s familiar with [Thibodeau] and everything that’s going on, so it’ll probably be a quick adjustment for him. So when the news was announced, I was extremely excited about having him here, for sure.”
Robinson finished with his first double-double before halftime in his career as the Knicks carried a 53-42 lead into the break.
Without Robinson after intermission, the Knicks’ starters were outscored 13-5 to open the third to cut their lead to three. But they closed the quarter on a 9-0 run — including a late three-point play by Randle —for a 79-64 lead entering the fourth.
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