Knicks takeaways from Monday's 102-83 win over Suns, including Julius Randle's dominant performance

Jan 2, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) looks to drive past Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig (0) in the first quarter at Madison Square Garden.
Jan 2, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) looks to drive past Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig (0) in the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks came out strong defensively and dominated the entire matinee game en route to a 102-83 win over the Phoenix Suns.

Jalen Brunson made his return to the starting lineup after a three-game absence, while RJ Barrett remained sidelinedTom Thibodeau went with a starting five of Brunson, Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson.

Here are the key takeaways...

- The Knicks missed their first four shots to open up the contest, as Randle made a mid-range jumper to get the team on the board and Grimes came right back with a three. Robinson grabbed an offensive rebound and found Quickley in the corner for three, and then Randle hit a deep jumper as the Knicks scored 14-straight to lead 14-4 midway through the first. New York played strong defense throughout the first quarter and did not commit a single foul. Randle continued his recent hot starts, recording 11 points and eight rebounds, as the Knicks led 23-11.

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- Brunson scored his first points to open up the second quarter, and then started to find a groove with a pull-up jumper, a pair of free throws, and back-to-back threes to go up 37-20. Evan Fournier joined the scoring party with a bucket to put the Knicks up 19 points, forcing the Suns to call timeout. Grimes attacked the rim and found Robinson underneath for an easy dunk, Brunson scored on a floater, and then Quickley and Grimes both hit threes to put the Knicks up 52-20 with 4:30 left in the half.

The Knicks outscored the Suns 31-20 in the second and led at halftime, 54-31. New York shot 47.5 percent from the field and made eight of their 17 three-point attempts, while Phoenix shot 33.3 percent from the field and was just 3-for-17 from three. Brunson scored all of his 16 points in the second quarter to lead the Knicks.

- Brunson scored on a floater, and after a Deandre Ayton air-ball, the Villanova product hit a step-back mid-range jumper to give the Knicks a 63-37 lead nearly halfway through the third. Grimes showed his defensive ability by blocking Mikal Bridges' jumper, but the Suns got the offensive board and scored as they tried to crawl back in the game. Grimes then found Robinson for the alley-oop jam and get The Garden crowd on their feet.

- Randle made his third three-pointer of the game to go up 29 and give him 21 points, as he already registered his fourth straight 20-point, 10-rebound game and received "M-V-P" chants from the crowd. He then pushed the lead to 74-43 with two free throws and 3:28 left in the quarter. Phoenix picked things up in the third and outscored New York by two in the quarter, but still trailed, 79-58.


- The Knicks continued to cruise in the fourth as Randle, Brunson and Co. kept adding to their big stat lines. Randle passed it to Grimes, who found a cutting Robinson for a two-handed dunk to go up 102-80. Despite being up by 20-plus points for a majority of the final quarter, Thibs didn't pull any of the starters until there was 1:03 left in the game, although Randle stayed in for another 30 seconds, and Quickley didn't exit.

Randle finished with 28 points on 7-for-18 shooting, 16 rebounds, six assists and a steal in 40 minutes of action. Brunson scored 24 points on 8-for-18 shooting, to go along with six assists and four boards. Quickley had 15, Grimes chipped in 12, and Robinson had a 10-and-10 double-double.


What's next

The Knicks return to action Wednesday night hosting the San Antonio Spurs.