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Knicks Revel in 'Free & Fun' Prowess From Three-Point Range

The New York Knicks built an early lead via the triple in a one-sided road victory in Minnesota.

In recent years, fans of New York City's branded football teams in New Jersey, the Giants and Jets, relied on the three-ball ... namely kicked field goals ... for sustenance, proving incapable of scoring the far more valuable touchdown.

Even with both the blue and green gridiron factions seemingly back at full strength, the city, namely its factions of New York Knicks fans, is still enchanted by the triple. Such a charm previously came in terrifying fashion, but the Knicks flipped the script on Monday night in Minneapolis. 

Ten three-pointers in the first quarter of a visit to Target Center set a new Knicks record for a single period. Half came from the arms of Julius Randle, making up a majority of his game-high 28 points in a 120-107 victory over the hosting Minnesota Timberwolves.

The historical nugget from deep came two nights after the Knicks (5-5) allowed the Boston Celtics to earn 27 triples in a Saturday loss, setting a new record for the historic franchise. New York entered Monday's game allowing 14.9 triples a game, the worst in the Association.

Perhaps appropriately, Jalen Brunson (23 points, 8 assists) invoked Randle's name three times when asking why the offense rolled to a Monday victory. The veteran's eight triples tied a career-high set last season. 

“Julius Randle, Julius Randle, and Julius Randle,” Brunson credited. “He shot them tonight, and they were all pretty. He was big-time for us tonight. It was a big game for him, and he kind of got our energy going.”

Along with Randle, Brunson was one of five Knicks with multiple makes from deep, joining RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin (three each), and Cam Reddish (two). 

Even with the reeling Timberwolves (4-6) missing Rudy Gobert due to health and safety protocols, the Knicks were undoubtedly looking for contributions from the outside in the wake of Mitchell Robinson's knee injury sustained on Friday. The early, historic barrage put the Timberwolves on their heels early, leading by nine after the first quarter and inflating their lead by as much as 27 in the second, even as their prowess from deep cooled off in the latter stages (hitting only nine in the final three periods). 

If anyone needed a night like Monday's, it was probably Randle. He was, perhaps, an unexpected hero beyond the arc, entering action with only a 24 percent success rate.

“I think guys were just playing free and fun," Randle said to describe Monday's offensive aura. "The other part of that is guys were playing free and not second-guessing themselves. If it’s open, shoot it, and create for each other.” 

To top it all off, the Knicks also allowed the Timberwolves no rhythm from a similar space, as Minnesota sank only 11 on 41 attempts on Monday night. When they started to make a late run at the lead, as an Austin Rivers triple kicked off the fourth quarter on a 12-2 run that sliced the Knicks' seemingly eternal advantage to 13, one last gasp of outside magic sealed the deal. Consecutive triples from Randle and Brunson before the midway mark confirmed the Knicks' dominance and send Minnesota to its fourth loss in the last five games.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau praised his group for the outside success on both sides of the ball. 

"Some of them were pretty good looks that (Minnesota) missed (but) some of them were challenged really well," Thibodeau said. "We want to attack the rim, I think we’re first in the league in points in the paint. But we’ve also got to think about how we can create those opportunities where we get good open threes."

“I think we moved without the ball, and when you play like that, you’re hard to guard. People are going to be open."

The Knicks return to action on Wednesday night when they head to Barclays Center to battle the Brooklyn Nets (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). 

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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