Detroit Pistons hand Julius Randle a nice birthday gift as New York Knicks roll, 140-110

Detroit Free Press

New York Knicks star Julius Randle turned 28 years old on Tuesday. He celebrated by playing his best game of the season against the Detroit Pistons. 

Randle scored 36 points in 31 minutes to lead the Knicks to a 140-110 blowing victory over the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. Detroit used a 20-9 run to take a 45-44 lead, their first of the night, with 8:09 remaining in the second quarter. But the Knicks took over from there, using a 24-8 run to build a 14-point lead at halftime.

They dominated the rest of the game, outscoring the Pistons, 38-21, in the third period.

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Isaiah Stewart returned after missing the Pistons’ previous seven games with a great big toe sprain, and tallied 19 points and five rebounds. He set career-highs in made 3-pointers (five) and 3-point attempts (nine). Marvin Bagley III (13 points, seven rebounds, career-high 3-for-6 from 3), Bojan Bogdanovic (13 points) and Killian Hayes (11 points, six assists) also reached double figures among Detroit’s starters.

The Pistons shot 5-for-8 from 3 in the first quarter, but finished 13-for-39 for the night. It was one of the Pistons’ worst defensive efforts of the season, as the Knicks became their first opponent to crack 140 points and shot 56.3% overall and 45.7% (16-35) from behind the arc.

Stewart returns and lights up from 3, Bey moves back to bench

Tuesday marked the end of a two-week absence for Stewart, who sprained his right big toe against the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 14 after chasing an errant pass out of bounds. It wasn’t his best game of the season, as Randle went off with Stewart being his primary defensive assignment. Stewart drew a tech early in the third quarter after lightly shoving Randle following a Randle dunk.

But Stewart did showcase his improved outside shot, making a career-high five 3-pointers. Four of his five makes came in garbage time during the fourth quarter, but it was a good sign since the Pistons are committed to playing two big men together. Stewart started alongside Bagley, who knocked down three of six 3-point attempts. All three of Bagley’s makes were in the first quarter.

It was Bey’s second time coming off of the bench this season. He had a relatively quiet night , finishing with 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Bey, who’s been in a slump from outside this season, missed all five of his 3-pointers.

Randle’s red-hot birthday night dooms Pistons

Before Tuesday, Randle shot 33.1% from 3 on 6.1 attempts per game. The power forward has never been a marksman — he’s a career 33.2% outside shooter, with his 41.1% clip during the 2020-21 season being an outlier.

His first quarter against the Pistons was uncharacteristic, to say the least. Randle hit 5-of-8 3-point attempts in the opening period, giving him 17 points and supercharging his overall hot night. His fifth made 3-pointer at the 2:34 mark gave the Knicks an early 36-25 lead. The Knicks were 8-for-16 from 3 as a team in the first period.

Randle scored all 36 of his points through the first three periods, as the Knicks entered the fourth quarter with a 31-point lead.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.

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