When the New York Knicks last won nine straight games, Julius Randle was announcing he was going to play for John Calipari at Kentucky.
Now, Randle is part of the NBA’s longest active winning streak.
The Knicks seek their first nine-game winning streak in a little over eight years Saturday afternoon when they host the Toronto Raptors.
New York (33-27) is on its first eight-game winning streak since March 5-21, 2014 under coach Mike Woodson in the final weeks of a 37-win season. The Knicks last won nine straight from March 18-April 9, 2013 when they reeled off 13 straight victories with Carmelo Anthony and several other veterans on the way to a 54-win season and their last playoff appearance.
At that time, Randle was playing high school basketball in the Dallas area and just announced he was headed to Kentucky. He spent one season with the Wildcats before being a lottery pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2014.
The Knicks are unbeaten since a 101-99 loss at Boston on April 7. Two nights later they started the run by overcoming a 13-point deficit in the final five minutes of regulation for a 133-129 overtime victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Knicks have won three OT games in the run while averaging 118.4 points and hitting 40.5 percent of their 3-point tries.
New York’s latest victory came Wednesday 137-127 in overtime against the Atlanta Hawks when they overcame an 11-point deficit in the third quarter. New York is now in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
“Fourth place sounds good,” Randle said. “But like I said, we’re not done yet. We’re trying to build something here. We’re trying to build a culture.”
Randle totaled 40 points and 11 rebounds against the Hawks, while Derrick Rose and rookie Immanuel Quickley scored 20 apiece. Reggie Bullock added 18 and RJ Barrett contributed 16.
The Knicks have won four consecutive games since Alec Burks was placed in the health and safety protocols last week.
Randle is averaging 24.5 points during the streak and has five games with at least 30 points. Rose has scored at least 15 points in five games of the streak, Bullock hit the game-tying 3-pointer in regulation against New Orleans on Sunday while Quickley has scored 37 points in his past two games.
Toronto (25-34) is facing the Knicks for the second time this month. In the Raptors’ last visit to New York, they nearly overcame an 18-point deficit before they fell 102-96 on April 11.
Since that meeting in New York, the Raptors are 4-1 in their last five games and on their second four-game winning streak of the season. They are 7-4 in their past 11 games after losing 13 of 14 games from March 3-31.
Like the Knicks, the Raptors enter with two days off after dominating the third quarter for a 114-103 victory over the visiting Brooklyn Nets.
Pascal Siakam led the way with 27 points and OG Anunoby added 25 as the Raptors also were at full strength with the returns of Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet. VanVleet added 17 after missing eight of the previous nine games with a hip injury, while Lowry finished with 14 in only his third game since March 26 after getting extended rest.
“The chemistry built throughout the game,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. “I thought our guys did a really good job of adjusting. Obviously, we were creating a lot of good shots. I think it was a good step forward.”
–Field Level Media