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The Knicks fought all the way to the buzzer against the juggernaut Nets. And after the buzzer.
All-Star Julius Randle needed to be repeatedly restrained from going after referee Scott Foster following the Knicks’ 117-112 loss to the Nets on Monday at Barclays Center.
Randle, who had been called for a traveling violation in the final seconds, had calmed down 40 minutes after the game.
“It was a conversation — it’s best I don’t comment on the situation,’’ Randle said. “There was a lot of frustration behind it for both sides. I’ll let it be in the past and move onto the next game.’’
Asked about his fiery post-buzzer reaction, Randle said: “I was frustrated. We fought so hard to come back and win the game. I was just frustrated.’’
It was a game the Knicks trailed by 18 points in the first half, and they took it down to a final possession after Tom Thibodeau won a challenge on a controversial steal by Alec Burks.
But the Knicks coach was out of challenges on the final play in which Randle was called for a travel — a rarely seen old-school up-and-down infraction.
Knicks senior vice president William Wesley needed to wrestle Randle off the court his star was so miffed, but probably not in time to avoid the NBA issuing a punishment for the display.
Randle bumped into Nets’ Jeff Green as he made his way toward the refs but at least Wesley perhaps saved an old Brooklyn street fight in an arena off Flatbush Avenue. Knicks president Leon Rose was on the court also trying to make peace.
After Thibodeau won the challenge with seven seconds left, the Knicks controlled the tip after a jump ball and quickly called timeout.
Randle got the ball on the right wing beyond the 3-point line. He went up for the potential tying shot and Kyrie Irving got a hand on the ball. Randle came down without shooting and dropped the ball immediately to dribble.
But it was too late. Foster called the travel as Randle appeared to land with possession. He finished with 33 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
“The defender was deemed to touch the ball, but not cause it to be dislodged or loose,” Foster said. “Upon that when the player alights he cannot purposely drop the ball or dribble the ball or be first to touch after he dropped the ball.”
“It’s an emotional game, he calmed down right away,’’ Thibodeau said. “It was a hard-fought game for both teams. Sometimes it goes your way with whistles, sometimes it doesn’t. I thought Julius played a terrific game. He played the 5, was switching. It didn’t go our way at the end.’’
Irving said he was trying to foul Randle before he went up.
“I was either gonna foul early, but I saw him lining up for a jump shot,” Irving said. “I felt I could get a good hand on it. Scott called travel. I thought Julius made a good play afterwards putting it down. I was gonna foul him after that just to get him to the free-throw line. That’s how it went.”
Perhaps Randle got an education on the rule after the game, as he seemed contrite.
“I just think it’s best I move past it and not comment what I think and what the official thought,’’ Randle said.
On the prior play, the referees reversed a call on a steal by Burks that originally was ruled a foul on RJ Barrett after they double-teamed Nets’ Joe Harris in the backcourt, trailing by three.
Thibodeau would have challenged the Randle play, he said, if he had a challenge left.
“That’s what they said they saw, I didn’t see it that way,’’ said Thibodeau, whose club fell to 20-20 and faces the Sixers on Tuesday. “Just as the other play in the corner, I didn’t see it that way either.’’
The Nets built a 18-point lead in the first half but the Knicks didn’t back down or go away and were within five points for much of the final four minutes.
And then Randle was ready for more.
— Additional reporting by Brian Lewis