New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has nothing but respect for superstar big man Julius Randle despite benching him for the whole fourth quarter of their Game 4 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Randle played just 27 minutes in the contest and was benched in the final quarter as the Knicks went on to win 102-93 and take the 3-1 series lead. The New York scorer was clearly disappointed with the benching, quickly leaving the arena and refusing to talk to the media following the game.
Speaking to reporters about his decision to bench Randle, though, Thibodeau played it down and emphasized he did it for the health of his player.
“Julius is our horse. Most players probably wouldn’t be playing (right now),” Thibodeau said, referencing the ankle injury that forced Randle to miss the final two weeks of the regular season before returning for Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs series with Cleveland, via Ian Begley of SNY TV.
Tom Thibodeau further explained that he decided to stick with the lineup they had midway through the fourth quarter because the said group was playing well. Sure enough, the team delivered and pulled away with the nine-point win after entering the final frame with just a two-point advantage.
It's definitely not surprising that Randle was benched. After all, he made just seven points on 3-of-10 shooting in the 27 minutes he played. Clearly, he's not at his best condition on Sunday night.
The good thing for Randle is Thibodeau hasn't lost faith in him. He knows what his big man is capable of, and it's doubtful he's going to keep the big man on the bench moving forward.