When Julius Randle can’t get anything going, the New York Knicks are having trouble without Jalen Brunson, who is injured.
If Brunson, who has a sore left foot, does not play against the Lakers on Sunday night in Los Angeles, the Knicks will need Randle to get back on track if they want to end their three-game losing streak.
Since losing four straight games from January 16-22, the Knicks are now on their first three-game skid. This skid follows their nine-game winning streak, which culminated in their 131-129 double-overtime victory over Boston on Sunday. Due to the injury he suffered in Miami’s 122-120 victory two nights prior, Brunson did not play.
During New York’s previous three games, Brunson has played 19 minutes. He missed Tuesday’s seven-point home loss to the Charlotte Hornets and then played through the pain in the first half of Thursday’s 122-117 loss to the Sacramento Kings, which started the Knicks’ four-game western trip.
As Randle shot 5 of 24 from the field and scored 19 points in a 106-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, the Knicks fell to 3-4 without Brunson. The Knicks shot 35.6% from the field.
In the first game without Brunson, Randle scored 31, but he hasn’t scored more than 25 points in three straight games. He has shot 28.5 percent (18 of 63) in those games, including 7 of 31 attempts from three-point range.
When Randle is held under 25 points, New York is 18-17, and Saturday’s performance may have been his most frustrating of the season. He also received a technical foul for elbowing Mason Plumlee and yelled at teammate Evan Fournier and a team security guard while he was being restrained from going after the officials, in addition to the poor shooting performance.
The Lakers are ninth in the Western Conference, half a game behind the two teams directly in front of them, Minnesota and Dallas, while the Knicks remain in the top six of the Eastern Conference and are percentage points behind the Brooklyn Nets, who are fifth.
Los Angeles is looking for its first four-game winning streak since winning five straight games from December 30 to January 7 after losing LeBron James for multiple weeks to right foot soreness.
In a 122-112 home victory over the Toronto Raptors, the Los Angeles Lakers shot 56.3% from the floor to secure their third consecutive victory. After missing four games with a sprained right ankle, D’Angelo Russell returned and scored 28 points.
Anthony Davis, who had scored 107 points in his previous three games, was held to eight points despite Russell’s performance.