The Knicks fought all the way to the buzzer against the juggernaut Nets. And after the buzzer.
Knicks All-Star Julius Randle needed to be repeatedly restrained from going after referee Scott Foster after their 117-112 loss to the Nets on Monday at Barclays Center.
Randle 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 they trailed by 18 points in the first half and the Knicks took it down to a final possession after Tom Thibodeau won a challenge.
The referees reversed a call on a steal by Alec Burks that originally was ruled a foul by RJ Barrett after they double-teamed Nets’ Joe Harris in the backcourt, trailing by three.
But the Knicks coach was out of challenges on the final play in which Randle was called for a travel — an old-school up-and-down infraction rarely seen.
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. At least Wesley perhaps saved a old Brooklyn street fight 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 and Nets jumped it up and the Knicks controlled the tip and called timeout.
Randle got the ball on the right wing beyond the 3-point line. Randle went up for the potential tying shot and Nets’ Kyrie Irving got a hand on the ball. Randle came down without shooting and dropped it immediately to dribble.
But apparently it was too late. Foster called the travel as Randle appeared to land with possession.
Randle finished stuck on 33 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
“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.’’
With a three-point lead, Irving said he was looking to foul Randle before he went up for the shot but wasn’t quick enough. Then he was going to foul him when Randle came down and dribbled but Foster bailed him out.
Thibodeau would have challenged, he said, if he had one 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’’
That other play kept the Knicks’ slim hopes alive. Up three, Harris got the inbounds and Burks and Barrett swarmed him. Barrett was ruled to have made too much contact as Burks ripped it away. He would have had an easy layup but the whistle blew.
The referees ruled Barrett didn’t commit enough contact. A jump ball was ruled and Randle won the tip to Burks and the Knicks called timeout.
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.