Julius Randle and streaking Knicks host Hornets

NBA

Julius Randle has become a relatively new go-to player, and yet his contributions have made the New York Knicks a factor.

The Charlotte Hornets have relied on guard Terry Rozier, who has seen other players on the team emerge as clutch performers. But with the Charlotte roster hampered due to injuries, it’s Rozier who’s doing extra special work.

The Knicks put a six-game winning streak on the line when they take on Charlotte on Tuesday night in New York.

“I judge things on wins and losses,” Randle said. “I know that’s not a great way to judge everything, but at this point in the season that’s how I’m judging it to (see if) we’re putting ourselves in position to win games, and right now we are.”

The Knicks withstood the New Orleans Pelicans for a 122-112 overtime victory Sunday. Randle racked up 33 points, and New York has its longest winning streak in seven years.

Randle has reached the 30-point mark in four straight games, giving him the longest such streak for a Knick since Carmelo Anthony had four in a row from Feb. 19-24, 2014.

“It’s a stretch where I got to bring it every night,” Randle said. “I have to put my best foot forward. I got to do what it takes to win.”

While Randle has been the most consistent standout for the Knicks, others on the team have been clutch as well. Derrick Rose pumped in 23 points Sunday, and Reggie Bullock made a 3-point basket that sent the game to overtime.

“The challenges keep coming,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Rozier eclipsed the 30-point level Sunday when he racked up 34 points in a 109-101 victory against the Portland Trail Blazers, putting a halt to a four-game losing streak.

Rozier missed a game during the skid, but the Hornets know they can count on him.

“I’m juggling it right now,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “A lot of these lineups haven’t been together.”

Rozier has taken a role as a primary ballhandler, something that has forced his teammates to make an adjustment.

In the only previous matchup this season, Charlotte defeated the Knicks 109-88 on Jan. 11 at home. The Hornets’ leading scorer Gordon Hayward (34 points), rebounder LaMelo Ball (14) and assist provider Devonte’ Graham (seven) from that meeting are all out with injuries, so that puts Charlotte in a bit of a bind.

The Hornets have failed to reach the 100-point plateau in four of their 10 games this month.

“That’s how we’re going to get through this stretch is defending at a high level,” Borrego said. “I’m just trying to balance the offense with the defense.”

There are going to be inconsistencies with a revolving lineup for the Hornets. Rookie center Vernon Carey Jr. made his first career start Friday night at Brooklyn and posted 21 points. He followed that against Portland with four fouls and no points in seven minutes.

The Knicks will keep an eye on the status of Nerlens Noel, who has played despite a bruised right hand.

–Field Level Media

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