Barrett scored 30 points – his most since Jan. 22 against the Raptors – to go along with eight rebounds and four assists in the victory. 20 of those 30 points came in the second half.
He also shot 72.2% (13-18) on two-point field goals, an absolutely dominant performance from Barrett in response to his late-game benching the game prior.
“The thing I love about RJ is I always believe he’s gonna bounce back,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said of Barrett after Thursday’s game. “And I saw it immediately the next day after the Laker game. I said, ‘We’ll be fine’. Because I know it’s important to RJ and I knew he’d come out aggressive.”
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The Knicks needed a strong performance from RJ Barrett
The Knicks played this game against the Heat massively undermanned, with both Jalen Brunson (non-COVID illness) and Mitchell Robinson (thumb surgery) absent from the starting lineup Thursday.
While Miami was missing a few players as well, they still had their elite duo of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
Therefore, Barrett was tasked with taking a step forward and have a big game to get New York a much-needed victory against a good Heat team.
Barrett’s performance Thursday is a welcome sign that he responds well to adversity and can step up big when the Knicks need it most.
Instead of settling for tough threes for most of the game, Barrett was much more aggressive and getting to his sweet spot on the interior, driving to the basket with sheer confidence, and fighting through tons of contact to get key baskets.
Despite shooting 0-5 from three-point range on Thursday, there is good reason to believe that sooner rather than later, the shits from beyond the arc will begin to fall and that he will return to the elite scoring threat he has shown to capable of being.
Barrett will look to pick up right where he left off when he and the Knicks take on the Clippers at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
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