New York Knicks

MIP frontrunner Julius Randle outduels Luka Doncic in Knicks statement victory in Dallas

(NBA Getty Images)

Julius Randle seems to have already got the 'Most Improved Award' in the bag.

On Friday, the seven-year veteran had a game for the record books in Dallas - his hometown. He went off for 44 points, a season-high and one shy of his career-high, leading the Mavericks to a 117-109 victory.

He also finished the game with 10 rebounds, seven assists, one steal, and a block on 16-of-29 shooting from the field over 40 minutes of action. Those numbers put him alonsgide former Knicks Hall of Famer Bernard King:

He's also the first Knick since Carmelo Anthony in 2014 to record multiple 40-point games in a single season. This game had a lot to do with '2014'.

By edging out Luka Doncic and the Mavericks, the Knicks won their fifth consecutive game - doing so for the first time since 2014. During this streak, New York has defeated the likes of the Lakers, Raptors, Grizzlies and the Pelicans.

The Knicks turnaround this year began with the hiring of Tom Thibodeau in the offseason and quite naturally, their success has been led by their defence.

New York's defensive rating is tied third-best in the league, after ranking as low as 23rd last season. Additionally, they lead the league in points allowed, opposition's field goal percentage and 3-point percentage.

As impressive as those stats are and this win is, head coach Thibodeau remains grounded and talks about needing to continue to take care of the little things and the rest will take care of itself.

"You know I'm never happy," Thibodeau said postgame.

In this one, although they couldn't restrict Doncic's playmaking as the Slovenian dished out a career-high 19 assists but the Knicks restricted him to 7-16 shooting from the field and 2-of-9 from long distance.

Meanwhile, the other Dallas star Kristaps Porzingis finished with a double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds but shot 8-of-20 from the field as the Mavericks remain winless against the Knicks in Dallas since the Porzingis trade in 2019.

Last but not least, this win ties the Knicks with the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks in the win column with 30 wins each. They are now sixth in the East, just a half-game behind the Hawks and Celtics for the fourth seed.

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