RJ Barrett’s injury dampens Obi Toppin’s career night in Knicks big win

The good news is New York Knicks rising star RJ Barrett will wrap up his third season, averaging 20.1 points, continuing his year-by-year progress. But the bad news is Barrett’s season is over with an initial prognosis of sprained right knee pending MRI results.

Barrett was on pace to a big night when his right knee buckled near the end of the first half of the Knicks’ 114-92 rout of the tanking Washington Wizards Friday night at Capital One Arena. He left the game with 14 points on 6 of 10 shooting, and the Knicks ruled him out at halftime.

“I don’t have [any update] other than a sprained right knee, and then he’ll be re-evaluated by our doctors when we get back,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after the game.

After the scary moment where he held his knee and stayed crumpled on the floor for several moments, Barrett limped off the court and went to the locker room. Thibodeau ruled him out for the Knicks’ final game on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors.

“I don’t like any of our players getting injured, but it’s part of the game. The guy’s got soreness [on his right knee] right now, so obviously, he’s going to be out,” Thibodeau said.

Even without Barrett, the Knicks were too much for the Wizards, who rested their top players. The Knicks also played without several key players, including starters Mitchell Robinson and Julius Randle. But Obi Toppin continued his surge with a career-high 35 points, stepping up in Barrett’s absence.

Toppin was sharp again from long distance, connecting on 6 of 9 three-pointers. He added four rebounds, one assist, and two steals in 38 minutes as the Knicks (36-45) inched ahead of the Wizards (35-46) for the 11th place in the East, which means worse lottery odds than their victims.

But the lottery is the least of Thibodeau’s worries. His focus was on continuing the team’s better overall play since the All-Star break and the development of their young players. Toppin’s growth, along with Immanuel Quickley, who produced a double-double (23 points, 10 assists, and six rebounds) after his first career triple-double in their previous game, has been an interesting development going into the summer. Rookie center Jericho Sims also continued his strong performance with six points, nine rebounds, three assists, and two blocks. But Barrett’s injury was a dampener.

“It’s always tough to see a player go down. But RJ, he’s been doing great,” Toppin said. “For him to get hurt on something like that, it definitely sucks. But he’s going to bounce back and be better.”

The Knicks are hopeful it’s nothing more serious than a sore right knee.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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