DETROIT — Julius Randle celebrated a personal milestone Tuesday night in Motown with 28 candles and 36 points for the Knicks.
Randle’s season-high scoring total on his 28th birthday lifted Tom Thibodeau’s team to a rare easy victory and its highest offensive output of the season, 140-110, over the NBA-worst Pistons at Little Caesars Arena.
Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett and Quentin Grimes registered 16 points apiece as the Knicks nudged back toward the .500 mark (10-11) after dropping their previous two games at home.
Isaiah Stewart scored 19 points to lead the Pistons, who were playing without 2021 No. 1-overall pick Cade Cunningham (shin) and rookie guard Jaden Ivey (knee).
Randle, whose previous high this season was 34 points on Nov. 16 in Denver, sank all six of his 3-pointers and netted 26 points in the first half. The Knicks entered the game last in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage at 31.5 percent, but they connected on 16 of 35 attempts from long distance (45.7 percent).
Randle matched his career-high for 3-pointers in a quarter with five on his first eight attempts for 17 early points as the Knicks grabbed a 40-32 lead through one.
The Pistons actually sank 18 of their first 27 field-goal attempts to grab a one-point advantage four minutes into the second, but the Knicks closed the half on a 26-11 push to carry a 14-point cushion into intermission.
Randle drove the lane for a lefty dunk early in the third and drew a technical foul when he was shoved by Stewart after the play. The Knicks extended their lead to as many as 30 in the quarter, with Randle exceeding his season best by reaching 35 points with just over three minutes remaining.
With the game out of reach, Randle (14-for-24) and the other starters didn’t play in the fourth quarter, eliminating any chance of him reaching his career-high of 46 points — set on March 7 of last season in Sacramento — on his birthday.
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