Knicks’ RJ Barrett fighting through inconsistencies

RJ Barrett, New York Knicks
Jan 31, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) brings the ball up court against Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder (17) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett had an up-and-down night Tuesday as the Knicks came back to defeat the Orlando Magic on the road 102-98.

The fourth-year wing finished with 15 points, two rebounds, three assists, one steal, and shot 5-16 from the field and 3-8 from three-point range in the victory, which was his first game back after missing one with a non-COVID illness.

Overall, it was uphill climb of a game for Barrett, but luckily for the Knicks, he was able to finish the game strong after a dreadful start.

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Knicks’ RJ Barrett got it going in the fourth quarter:

It has been a tumultuous week for Barrett, as over his last four games, he is shooting just 39.7% from the field and a ghastly 16.7% from outside the arc, which has included a stunning in-game benching and an uncharacteristic media silence from him.

That downward trend seemed to continue for much of Tuesday’s game, as Barrett was just 2-11 from the field and 1-5 from outside the arc, with only seven points through the first three quarters.

In one instance in the second quarter, Barrett was taken out of the game as the Knicks found themselves down 11.

What followed was a 10-0 Knicks run, but was then thwarted by a magic 7-0 run to close out the half, meaning that New York was going to need Barrett to step up in the second half.

Indeed, he kicked things into high gear in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter, and at a time, the Knicks really needed him to.

Trailing by as much as five, Barrett helped lead the Knicks’ comeback by scoring eight points in the fourth quarter and shot an efficient 3-5 from the field and 2-3 from three-point range in the period.

Barrett’s great fourth quarter is a great sign that he is finally gaining back his rhythm and efficient scoring. His defense has still been shaky over the past week, but if he begins to feel more confident offensively, then hopefully, that confidence will translate to the defensive side of the floor as well.

The Knicks are going to need Barrett to be at his best as the season winds down, as with 26 games to go, the Knicks are currently tied for sixth seed over the Miami Heat to get into the playoffs without the help of the play-in tournament.

Barrett will look to shake off the rust and play strong all the way through when he and the Knicks take on the Philadelphia 76ers on the road Friday, the team’s first game post-trade deadline.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @DylanBacker_