After shooting the lights out on the opening night of the season, RJ Barrett stumbled into some rough patches, the second of which coincided with the midst of a losing streak.
But despite the Knicks had their three-game winning streak snapped Friday night against the Kings in Sacramento, Calif., Barrett has rediscovered his touch and was making a major impact in the process.
“We’re just trying to work hard and grind every day,” Barrett said after scoring a career-high 28 points on 10-for-17 shooting in Thursday’s win over the Warriors. “That’s really what we’re trying to do. We’re really focused. We’ve been giving it our all and we’re going to continue to do that throughout the season.”
In Friday’s 103-94 loss to the Kings, Barrett had 21 points on 8-for-17 shooting — including going 2-for-2 from 3. Over his past five games entering Friday, Barrett had averaged 21.8 points — on 51.4 percent shooting and 38.9 percent from deep — to go with 6.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists. In the 10 games before that stretch, he was shooting just 33.1 percent from the floor and 12.8 percent from beyond the arc — numbers that were boosted by two games in the middle in which the lefty briefly got hot and shot 18 of 34 from the floor and 5-for-10 from three.
“I think RJ’s played really well over I’d say like the last five or six games, playing at a really high level,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He started off the season where he had a big opening night and I think teams came after him pretty good. But he’s adjusting and even during the stretch where he wasn’t shooting particularly well, he was rebounding great and he was playmaking.
Frank Ntilikina missed his 13th consecutive game since suffering a sprained right knee Dec. 29. Austin Rivers also was out for a second straight night with a sore right Achilles. … Sunday’s game in Portland has been switched from 9 p.m. Eastern time to 10 p.m.
— additional reporting by Peter Botte