Barrett scored 32 points, snagged seven rebounds, dished two assists, and shot 10-23 from the field in a team-high 49 minutes in the MLK day matchup against the Toronto Raptors, a welcoming sign for the Knicks after scoring just 13 points in their previous game against the Detroit Pistons.
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RJ Barrett started slow but finished strong:
After shooting just 3-11 from the field and 1-5 from beyond the arc in the first half, Barrett overcame his first-half struggles with a 22-point showing the rest of the way.
Barrett started to get to his hot spot in the paint more easily and was knocking down some sweet floaters and layups that helped the Knicks extend their lead to double digits.
As the Knicks lead evaporated, they found themselves down by two after Scottie Barnes missed a free throw with under eight seconds left.
Barrett would come through in the clutch in the biggest way possible, getting the rebound and going coast-to-coast to throw down a ferocious slam dunk with 0.6 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.
The dunk erupted the Madison Square Garden crowd, but they would soon be silenced as New York could not come out of the overtime period with a win.
While the loss was a bummer, Barrett’s big game and late-game heroics were bright spots, and there is a valid reason to have optimism that the Knicks’ big three is back.
“He’s back. He’s back”, point guard Jalen Brunson said about Barrett. “He’s worked really hard to get back, trying to get back into rhythm. I think this was his ‘I’m back in rhythm’ game. I’m just excited to have him play tonight and I wish we could have brought home a win for him because he played great and he deserved it.”Jalen Brunson on RJ Barrett’s play on Monday via SNY
Since returning from injury, Barrett is averaging 22.3 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game, and 2.3 assists per game, and is shooting 43.5% from the field and 28.6% from deep.
It is clear that Barrett is still a little rusty, but his performance on Monday is a good sign that he may have shaken off that rust.
Barrett will look to continue his solid play when the Knicks take on the Washington Wizards at MSG on Wednesday.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @DylanBacker_