NEW YORK (AP) — Julius Randle scored 28 points to lead New York to a 128-106 rout of the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night as the Knicks celebrated the golden anniversary of their 1972-73 NBA championship team.
Six players scored in double figures for New York, which won its fifth straight. R.J. Barrett had 25 points and a season-high seven assists. Jalen Brunson added 20 points, Josh Hart scored 15 points, Immanuel Quickley added 13, and Mitchell Robinson finished with a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds.
“It’s a team, any given night it’s going to be different,” Barrett said, when asked if the 2022-23 Knicks were emulating their 1972-73 predecessors by playing unselfish basketball. “We did a great job sharing the ball. Everybody kind of had a great game.”
Brandon Ingram scored 19 points for the Pelicans, who lost their third straight and fourth in five games overall. Josh Richardson added 16 points, C.J. McCollum finished with 13 and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Trey Murphy III scored 11 off the bench.
“We have to be better and I (have to) hold our guys more accountable,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “That standard in which we played with tonight is not us.”
New York was playing the second half of a back-to-back, coming off a 115-109 win over the Wizards a night earlier in Washington. Meanwhile the Pelicans last played Thursday, falling 115-110 loss to the Raptors in Toronto.
The Knicks came out looking like the fresher team, building a 42-26 advantage after the first quarter, and extending the lead to 73-52 at halftime.
Randle (19), Barrett (13), and Brunson (12) combined for 44 points as New York shot 54.3% from the field (25 for 46) and 50% from 3-point distance (13 for 26). New York’s 13 3-pointers in the first half matched a season high.
“Got off to a good start,” said Randle, “and sustained it.”
The Pelicans trailed by as many as 27 points midway through the third. Despite going on a 19-12 run to close out the period, New Orleans trailed 102-82 entering the fourth.
New York opened the fourth with a 12-8 spurt, highlighted by Robinson’s one-handed alley-oop dunk. And Randle’s two-handed dunk off of Quickley’s off-the-backboard-pass all but ended any hopes of a comeback by the Pelicans.
New Orleans lost reserve forward Larry Nance Jr. in the second quarter with a sprained left ankle. He did not return. Nance was defending Quickley and landed awkwardly while attempting to contest a layup. Nance was down on the court for a few minutes and had to be helped to the locker room.
Pelicans: Here is what Green knows: He and his team will have star Zion Williamson return from a right hamstring injury at some point this season. Green and his team suspect Williamson’s return will happen before the playoffs begin. What is unknown is how Williamson will be reintroduced to the roster. “Once (we know) he’s ready it’s something that (Executive Vice-President of Basketball Operations David Griffin and) our performance team and medical (staff) and coaches sit down and talk about what’s the best plan,” Green said. Entering the game, the Pelicans had lost 17 of 24 games played in 2023 without Williamson in the lineup.
Knicks: Throughout the game, the Knicks paid homage to their 1972-73 championship team with video testimonials and a halftime ceremony. And perhaps no person in Madison Square Garden could better appreciate that team more than Tom Thibodeau, who grew up in Connecticut rooting for the Knicks. “That was such a great team,” Thibodeau said during his pregame press conference. “They were so unselfish. They played great defense. … That was such a fun team but it’s what they embodied and how they played for each other. I think it resonated with the city.”
Pelicans: Host Orlando on Monday.
Knicks: Host Boston on Monday.
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