The New York Knicks are coming off a 25 point come-back win against the Boston Celtics on Thursday evening, stringing together two consecutive games after the return of Julius Randle.
Randle will plaster the headlines with his crude remarks after the game, displaying hostility after fans unleashed criticism over the past few weeks as a result of inconsistent performances. However, Randle finished the game with 22 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals. This is his second consecutive game with 20+ points, earning 30 and 16 rebounds against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night.
While the star power forward contributed heavily in the win, it was sharpshooter Evan Fournier who stepped up to the plate and delivered arguably his best performance of the season.
Fournier contributed 41 points and eight rebounds and shot 10 of 14 from the three-point range. He’s been widely unpredictable this season, but his resilience led him to a dominant outing against his former club.
“When you go through a season like that where there’s a lot of inconsistency…you start the day with a fresh attitude,” Fournier said.
Mental strength is an essential part of being a player in the NBA, shaking off poor performances like Fournier’s evening against Indiana where he scored zero points over 22 minutes, and coming back fresh the next day.
Most would agree that the French native isn’t living up to his four-year, $73 million contract he signed this past off-season, averaging
just 13.5 points per game and shooting 38.1% from three-point range. While his conversion rate from deep is slowly climbing, especially after shooting 40% over his last 10 games, they need more consistency from him moving forward, as the offense lacks efficiency when he’s not at the top of his game.
Aside from his incredible game, it was third-year guard RJ Barrett that stepped up and delivered the most crucial basket of the evening, a buzzer-beater with 1.5 seconds left on the clock.
When Barrett was asked if he thought the ball would go in when he heaved up a shot with 1.5 seconds left, he said with confidence: “Of course.”
RJ is another player that has experienced ebbs and flows of production the season, averaging 15.6 points per game over 31.3 minutes. Last season, Barrett set the stage for a hopeful lucrative third season, averaging 17.6 points and shooting 40% of three point range over 34.9 minutes.
RJ has seen a steep drop off in three-point efficiency — 7%. His field-goal percentage has dropped 4%, and his assist numbers are down nearly one pregame. While these regressions could result from strategy change and flow given the new additions on the team, Barrett showcased why the Knicks are so high on his capabilities.
RJ is one of those players that feed off confidence, and hitting this game-winner against Boston should give him a significant boost heading into a second game against the Celtics on Saturday night at the TD Garden.