The Knicks learned something important in devastating loss to Lakers

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The New York Knicks fell to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night 122–115. Despite the overtime loss, they enjoyed lucrative performances from RJ Barrett and Julius Randle, who combined for 68 points, 12 assists, and 24 rebounds.

Unfortunately, LeBron James and Anthony Davis powered Los Angeles to victory, as New York showed poor second-half defense, giving up 31 points in the third quarter, scoring just 13 of their own.

The Knicks started off on fire, though, posting 42 points in the first quarter but simmering down for the rest of the game. With LeBron James making a return after missing five games with a knee issue, his presence was ultimately the difference maker between victory and a tough loss at Arena.

Interestingly, Barrett made it known he wanted to cover James the entire game, a daunting task for any player, let alone a  third-year guard who has been inconsistent at times this season defensively.

Barrett finished the game with 36 points, 5.0 assists, and 7.0 rebounds, shooting 40% from three point range and 13 of 28 from the field.

Defensively, he was always at a disadvantage against James, but he was potent offensively, driving to the rim and shooting efficiently over 50 minutes of play. However, Barrett went cold in overtime when it mattered most, heaving up a 23-foot jump shot that missed badly and turning the ball over with just two minutes left on the clock.

However, the Knicks learned an important lesson from this game, Barrett has become their number one scoring option, despite Randle’s solid outing. Last month, Barrett finished with 21.8 points per game and shot 43.6% from the field. He also connected on 40.2% from three-point range.

To start February, he’s averaging nearly 30 points per game over two contests, maintaining his 6.0 rebounds per game to start the new year.

Even Randle gushed about his mentality against the Lakers, despite showing the disappointment on his face after the loss.

“That’s who he is. He’s made for big moments like that.”

Compared to last season, Barrett is officially having a more productive year compared to his second season with the team. He’s averaging 17.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and shooting 35.3% from the field. His shooting percentages are down a bit, but he’s averaging more points in fewer minutes, attempting a similar number of field goals.

With rumors indicating that Julius Randall could be on the trade block, which he declined this week, Barrett has undoubtedly put on a show and showcased he can be the team’s top option if need be. However, it is fair to give Randle credit where it’s due, commanding essential attention from the opposing team’s defenders providing RJ with better opportunities to drive to the basket and find high percentage shots.

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