Julius Randle is still trying to rediscover his scoring prowess as he recovers from offseason ankle surgery.
But the two-time All-Star insisted he wasn’t making “excuses” after his third straight poor game as the Knicks fell to 1 in a 96-87 road loss to the Pelicans on Saturday in New Orleans :2 fell behind.
“I just have to keep getting better. I just have to make my shots,” Randle said after missing 11 of 15 field goal attempts and all five were 3-pointers. “I have to look at the tape, but I just have to record. They will fall.”
Randle was forced to miss a game in the playoffs last spring after initially suffering a sprained ankle late in the regular season.
He admitted Saturday that after rehabbing all summer, he was unable to practice five-on-five until training camp.
Randle, who also scored eight of the Knicks’ 19 turnovers against the Pelicans, shot just 13 of 47 turnovers (27.7 percent), including 6 of 20 (30 percent) from distance in three games.
“He is aggressive. He attacks,” point guard Jalen Brunson said of Randle, who is averaging 13.7 points in three games. “As a group we have to get better. But we have to help each other get better. It can’t just be: “I have to get better” or “He has to get better.” How can we help each other together?
“Julius will attract attention, so we need to help him out a little.”
The start to three games hasn’t been all bad for Randle.
Saturday’s performance was ugly, but it came after he became the first player in NBA history to record at least 30 points, 20 rebounds, 15 assists and five made 3-pointers in the first two games of the season, according to Stat Muse .
In Friday’s win in Atlanta, he nearly had a triple-double with 17 points (4 of 10), 12 rebounds and nine assists.
“I thought that was his best passing game. … He was phenomenal,” Tom Thibodeau said. “And I thought he had the right intentions [Saturday night]. At times we were a step back. We were a step slow. So we need to make sure we clean that up.
“But for the most part he fights through it. I knew it would take some time, just let him work through it.”
Randle admitted that his eight giveaways – one of them a career-high – “should never have happened” and that he would “take full responsibility for them,” but said he wanted to “watch the tape” to figure out what caused the turnovers caused.
“We need to continue to do things to create a little bit more flow, help each other open up the court and shield,” Randle said. “I need to get better at reading, getting off the ball and stuff like that.”
While Thibodeau acknowledged that the high turnovers were “a problem,” he emphasized that it was more of a team-wide problem.
“We got into a big hole early on. … It’s easier to think it’s Julius, but everyone has to work together,” Thibodeau said. “If there are no outlets, you are one step behind, you are one step slow. If he is playing on a double team, he must have three exits. So we can do better.
“I thought the rebound was good enough. I thought we had that covered [3-point] Line good enough. But the problem is the difference in the game: If you defend, rebound and have low turnovers, you are able to win. We made two of the three, but we have to make three of the three if you shoot the ball the way we did.”
In fact, the Knicks only converted 7 of 37 attempts from 3-point range on Saturday night after hitting 44.5 percent (20 of 44) the night before in Atlanta.
They also had 16 turnovers against the Hawks, but managed to get through the sloppiness.
“I think that’s why we have 82 games,” RJ Barrett said. “Get everyone back into the rhythm, everyone back into the flow. Make the mistakes early; All teams do that.
“Nobody is perfect and nobody is at their perfect pace yet. I think we just have to keep learning and growing every day, and even when we have growing pains, we have to push ourselves and find a way to win.”