Knicks starters trending upward in three-game stretch, including win over Lakers


Evan Fournier defends Russell Westbrook black jersey

Evan Fournier defends Russell Westbrook black jersey

A stat worth keeping an eye on for the Knicks: in their last three games, including Tuesday’s win over Los Angeles, the current starting five has outscored opponents by three points in 42 minutes.

With those five on the court, the club is shooting 49 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc (14-for-28).

Before this three-game stretch, New York’s starting five had been outscored by a total of 88 points in 257 minutes.

So what changed?

Is it Nerlens Noel?

Noel has started two of the past three games; he played 29 minutes in the game he didn’t start – a win over Houston in which Mitchell Robinson suffered a concussion.

Maybe Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, Julius Randle and RJ Barrett are getting a little more comfortable together?

Both Randle and Fournier said after Tuesday’s win that the starters seemed to be trending in the right direction.

“This is what, 18 games in? This s–t takes time, bro,” Randle said. “The thing about us is we’ve stayed encouraged, we’ve stayed positive, we’ve had highs, we’ve had lows, but once it starts clicking we’re going to be a really, really good team. And we’re starting to take a step in the right direction.”

Randle assisted on one of Fournier’s six three-pointers on Tuesday. Barrett assisted on three of them and Walker assisted on another.

“He’s finding space. Running the floor really well, running the floor long and finding space and making himself available,” Randle said of Fournier. “From my perspective, making himself available on the double team and we’re finding him. He’s a great player, he’s been a really good player in this league for a long time and he can really shoot the ball. So we’ve got to take advantage of that.”

Last season, Randle developed strong chemistry with Reggie Bullock on offense. Randle often drew attention from the defense and found Bullock on the move for an open three.

He believes that he can develop similar chemistry with Fournier, who signed a four-year deal with New York last summer.

“He’s a huge part of our team so I’ll make sure that we establish him and he gets comfortable, Kemba, everybody gets comfortable to where we’re just going out there, we’re playing it, we know what’s going to happen, we know where our shots are going to come from, we know that we have each other’s back on the defensive end,” Randle said. “That’s what makes the game fun.”

For much of this young season, it didn’t look like the Knicks’ starters were having much fun. They’ve played relatively well over the past three games. It’s a trend worth watching as New York continues to navigate a tough six-game stretch.

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