The Knicks post-trade-deadline hangover lasted just three quarters before they awoke and ferociously rallied in the fourth quarter for a 106-102 victory over the Wizards at the Garden on Thursday.
After a horrendous first half, RJ Barrett carried the comeback with 24 points on a night Julius Randle wasn’t himself.
And Alec Burks (27 points, 15 in the fourth), rookie Immanuel Quickley (16 points) and Taj Gibson provided grit and scoring off the bench after the Knicks trailed 60-45 at halftime and by 11 after three quarters.
The Knicks outscored Washington 39-24 in the final period. Barrett’s biggest play came on a fast break when he was tied up by Bradley Beal but still finished for a three-point play after which he flexed his biceps. Barrett was just 7 of 22 on the night but scorched the Wizards for nine fourth-quarter points.
Randle, who injured his thigh in the third quarter, responded in the final two minutes to hit two baseline jumpers to cap the comeback. Randle shot just 5 of 16 for 13 points.
The Knicks were without their two best defenders in shooting guard Reggie Bullock and center Nerlens Noel. And they were also without their usual 1-2 punch on offense in Randle and Barrett for the first three quarters.
The Knicks were flatter than Kyrie Irving’s Earth in the first half, but their second-half surge from a 17-point deficit moved them over .500 to 23-22.
The Wizards were pounded by 18 points in a wire-to-wire blowout by the Knicks on Tuesday and played the first three quarters bent on revenge before being blitzed in the final period.
After scorching Washington for 37 points Tuesday, Randle missed 10 straight baskets at one juncture in this one but still found a way to help late in the final period despite being hobbled.
Before the game, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was asked about Eastern playoff contenders, Miami, Chicago and Boston making big trade-deadline upgrades while his team did nothing to speak of.
“I love our team,’’ Thibodeau said. “You’re watching what others are doing. That’s your job. We did what was best for us. That’s what we concern ourselves with.’’
Two hours later, Thibodeau looked beyond frustrated as his club fell behind by 17 points in the first half. And then was redeemed.