When the match ended, Tom Thibodeau Julius Randle walked off the pitch and into the locker room, reassuring his star player. But by the time he reached the post-match press conference, Thibodeau had his own angry tirade ready.
It wasn’t just the frustration of a 112-110 loss to the Nets at Barclays Center that had Thibodeau and Randle on edge. Randle angrily went after official Jason Goldenberg after the last buzzer and had to be escorted away by Knicks officials.
It was 25-12 free throws on a night where the Knicks believe Randle did everything he could to get to the edge and make contact. It was that Randle only got two penalty throws all night while the stars on the other hand, James Harden and Kevin Durant, collected 19 attempts.
And Randle, who had already pulled a technical foul with 1:36 left of the match after being called for a foul on Durant, said the referees told him he would not get calls because he was too strong.
“You have to ask them,” Randle said of the officials. “I do not know what they see or see, but you have to ask them. As aggressive as I played and attacked the paint, I can not be punished for being stronger than humans. And that is the answer that I got in day.
“They said that some contact does not affect me, just as it affects other players. Because I am stronger, they miss the calls.”
Asked about his reaction to that explanation, Randle said: “It [ticks] me even more, to be honest with you, because that’s not how you judge the game. “
Randle, who finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, pulled the technical with 1:36 left after Durant drained a 20-footer to a two-point lead. The technical free throw increased the lead to three. The Knicks closed it to one on a Randle dunk, but he was then called for a foul against Durant with 27.5 seconds to play.
For Randle, this has been a persistent problem, and one that he did not want to focus on.
“You saw what happened,” he said. “Everyone saw what happened. It’s not necessary for me to talk about it, we all saw what happened … But I do not want to talk about it. I want to talk about the game. I do not want to talk about it. the guys, because they obviously do not understand the game. “
Thibodeau was not so diplomatic. He had been angry during the match, challenging a call in the fourth quarter when Derrick Rose was called for a foul on Durant on a missed dunk and lost the challenge. The match was then settled when James Johnson drove on Mitchell Robinson, who was called for a foul, and the two penalty throws made the difference.
“There’s a big discrepancy in penalty throws,” Thibodeau said. “I can tell you that. Julius drives the ball and he gets two free throws. I do not care what the match is called. I really do not. You can call it tight, you can call it loose. But it must be the same . “
Thibodeau’s anger grew as he spoke – and perhaps fortunately, his press conference ended less than two minutes later.
Asked why he thought there was an inconsistency in the calls, Thibodeau said: “I do not know. I do not know. I keep an eye on what is going on both ways. Hey, look, they are a good team , they played well, but I know Julius ran that ball pretty hard. And I’re ticked off. “
After Randle had spoken to the referees at the end of the game, and before Thibodeau got rid of him, Durant hugged him, and they exchanged words, much kinder than what Randle had with the referees.
“KD is just a great player,” Randle said. “Growing up as a kid and watching him go to University of Texas, it was always a dream to play in my home state of Texas. A little follow up on him because he gave kids a lot of hope or whatever. So I I always have idolized him, love to compete against him and learn from him. So just rap a little with him. It’s always great to compete against him. “
Notes and quotes: RJ Barrett was ruled out of the game early in the second quarter due to an illness. Alec Burks, inserted in the starting lineup instead of Kemba Walker for another game in a row, had 25 points. Thibodeau said Barrett’s absence did not allow for a good look at what the starting lineup might look like. . . Jericho Sims was inactive and retained one night on his two-way contract.