"I still got be a lot better," Julius Randle said postgame after the New York Knicks levelled their first-round series with the Atlanta Hawks with a 101-92 Game 2 victory.
The newly-crowned Most Improved Player of the Year has had a rough first couple of playoff games of his career.
Through two games, he's posted identical box scores of 15 points, 12 rebounds and four assists while shooting a combined 11-of-39 from the field. Given the high standard he set for himself in the regular season, his production and efficiency are well below his season average of 24.1 and 45.6 percent respectively.
However, in Game 2, he showed some signs of a revival. In a third quarter that changed the game, as the Knicks outscored the Hawks by 14, Randle scored 11 of his 15 points and was responsible for 14 of the team's 32 points in the period.
STRONG TAKE JU pic.twitter.com/16DDD8d8WV- NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) May 27, 2021
'Just tried to make adjustments," Randle said postgame while talking about the third quarter.
"Tried to get in the paint. I needed to create shots for myself or for others. So, caught the ball in a little bit different areas. Starting to figure it out a little bit."
Over the final six minutes of the third quarter, New York rallied back into the game with an 18-5 run, which was part of a larger 30-8 game-changing second-half run.
Late in the game, Randle showed that his play in the third quarter wasn't just a flash in the pan and that he was really 'starting to figure this out'. Despite a couple of missed shots, he sealed the game late, scoring or assisting on seven of the team's last eight points of the game.
"I thought as the game went on, he started to see things better," Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said of Randle's play in Game 2.
Tom Thibodeau on what Julius Randle did differently in the second half:- Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) May 27, 2021
"As the game went on, he started to see things better" pic.twitter.com/4c6JPZss17
Although the Hawks came away with the split after these two games at the Madison Square Garden, the Knicks have a lot going for them considering that they won one and lost the other game in the final seconds with Randle yet to play at the level he consistently performed at during the regular season.
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