Tom Thibodeau calls for Knicks to step up with Julius Randle out: 'Get in there and get the job done'

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • New York Knicks
    New York Knicks
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Julius Randle
    Julius Randle
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Tom Thibodeau
    Tom Thibodeau
    Basketball coach from the United States
  • Kemba Walker
    Kemba Walker
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
Julius Randle holds ball looks 12/29/21 cropped
Julius Randle holds ball looks 12/29/21 cropped

Life without Julius Randle has been an adjustment for the Knicks. Since Randle entered health and safety protocols on Thursday, New York has gone from a three-game winning streak to two straight road losses -- both by 15 points.

The Knicks (17-20) followed this past Friday's 95-80 defeat at the Oklahoma City Thunder with Sunday's 120-105 drubbing by the Toronto Raptors. While New York is also without Mitchell Robinson and Nerlens Noel in protocols, Randle's absence has especially been felt.

Still, head coach Tom Thibodeau is not making excuses. As New York navigates a rotation that missed the likes of Kemba Walker (sore left knee) and Derrick Rose (right ankle surgery), Thibodeau called on capable players to step up.

"When you get down players -- and that's part of this league, is the guys that are stepping in, just get in and play to your strengths," Thibodeau said after Sunday's game. "You don't replace Julius or a Kemba or Derrick with an individual. You have to do it collectively, as a team. So everyone's capable of playing great defense. Everyone's capable of rebounding the ball. I mean, that's commitment. It's blocking out. They're big, they're long and they're athletic. So if you're not making contact, they're going to get to the ball.

"And so, we talked about that before the game. There were times we did it well. Other times, we didn't. And that's where we have to develop the consistency. But we have to have the belief that we can win with everyone who's on this roster's capable of playing well. And so, get in there and get the job done. That's it. And if we defend and we rebound and keep our turnovers down, we're in position to win. And then you need to make shots down the stretch. And like I said, there were some good things, there were some really good sequences that we had. We just didn't have enough of 'em."

After earning a career-first All-Star selection with his breakout 2020-21 campaign, Randle has stepped back in the Knicks' early season. Through 35 games, he is averaging 19.3 points on 41.7 percent shooting -- 32.8 percent from 3 -- in 35.3 minutes per game.

The Knicks won, but Randle struggled this past Tuesday and Wednesday before entering protocols. In his last two games, New York's victories at the Minnesota Timberwolves (96-88) and Detroit Pistons (94-85), he scored a combined 18 points on 7-of-31 shooting.

"He's a terrific player," Thibodeau said of Randle. "It's the day and age of social media, and that's what social media is. You try not to pay attention to it because it's really meaningless. Whether it's praise or criticism, it doesn't really matter. What really matters is what we think. And so, we know how important it is.

"It's like the backup quarterback -- everyone thinks the backup should start until he has to start. And so, Julius is a terrific player. Derrick's terrific. Kemba's terrific. But guys are going to miss games. And when they do, we've got -- there's terrific players on our bench. Get in there and get the job done."