CLEVELAND — Julius Randle is hurt again.
The Knicks All-Star sprained his left ankle in the second quarter of Wednesday’s Game 5 against the Cavaliers, laying on the court in pain as coaches, teammates and even coach Tom Thibodeau gravitated toward Randle with concern.
Randle turned his ankle after contesting a shot and landed awkwardly on Cavs guard Caris LeVert with 1:17 left in the second quarter. Sprained the same ankle on March 29 and missed the final five games of the regular season.
The two-time All-Star did not return to the game.
Before the injury, Randle was having a rejuvenated performance with 13 points and six assists in 16 minutes. Three nights before, the 28-year-old struggled in game 4 — which included his shocking effort in defense — and was benched for the entire fourth quarter.
Thibodeau hoped two days off between games would give Randle a needed refresher. Asked if he expected Randle to return in Game 5, the coach simply said, “Yes.”
It started well, but it ended with Randle limping to the locker room. He needed help to get off the field, but stumbled onto the bench on his own.
Randle later re-emerged from the locker room to watch his team cruise to the next round.