RJ Barrett grew up watching Andrew Wiggins in Canada.
“He’s a legend back home,” Barrett said.
In their first NBA matchup, Barrett showed his time has come as he upstaged Wiggins in leading the New York Knicks to a 119-104 rousing win on the road.
Barrett set the tone for the rout with 14 of his career-high 28 points in the opening quarter.
Wiggins, a former No.1 pick, finished with 17 points and a team-worst plus/minus -18.
But more than Barrett’s scoring explosion, the Knicks once again flaunted their league’s top defense holding the Warriors to just 38 percent from the field and limiting them to 9-of-38 from three.
It was a wire-to-wire win for the Knicks, who drew six players in double figures in a well-balanced attack.
Barrett shot 10-of-17 and 6-of-8 free throws in another impressive shooting night. He’s now averaging 21.8 points on 51/39/87 shooting splits in his last five games.
Mitchell Robinson had a season-high 18 points after a scoreless first half with eight rebounds and two shot blocks. Julius Randle flirted with a triple-double (16 points, 17 rebounds, 9 assists), while Elfrid Payton was outstanding on both ends of the floor.
Payton held Curry scoreless for the first eight minutes of the game that threw the Warriors’ offense in disarray.
It didn’t help that Draymond Green got tossed in the second quarter after picking up his second technical foul.
Curry was still able to get 30 points but was held to just two in the pivotal third quarter where the Knicks broke the game wide open.
The Warriors got within six at the break and were still within striking distance halfway through the third quarter. Then the trio of Barrett, Robinson, and Randle turned a Knicks’ 68-63 lead into a dozen lead, 79-67.
The rookies took over from there.
Immanuel Quickley fed Obi Toppin for the first of his two baseline slams. Then Quickley quickly followed it up with a pullup jumper that pushed the Knicks’ lead to 16 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
The Knicks never looked back.
With their third straight win, the Knicks climbed to .500 once more. It took them 32 games to reach eight wins last season.
But this season feels and looks different. Thanks to Tom Thibodeau, who is squeezing the most out of this overachieving roster.
The Knicks started the game assisting nine of their first 10 shots. They finished with 24 on 38 field goals made.
The Knicks hope to extend their three-game win streak when they continue their West Coast trip in Sacramento on Friday night.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo