RJ Barrett and Julius Randle have found the form that helped lead the Knicks to the playoffs last season, helping the team to its third straight win by beating the Hawks in Atlanta, 117-108.
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Randle and Barrett combined for 50 points, Barrett finished with 26 points, five rebounds and three assists, and Randle added 24 points and nine assists as the Knicks won for the fifth time in their last six games.
With the victory, the Knicks have matched their longest winning streak of the season (three), which they have done on two other occasions this season.
They move to 22-21 on the season (back in the play-in seeds). This is the first time the Knicks have been above .500 since Nov. 30 when they were 11-10. They are 8-3 from Christmas and 5-1 from New Years.
“It feels pretty safe. That’s what we’re working for,” Barrett said after the game. “We had a difficult month, but now it is starting to pick up. It’s exciting to be a part of that.”
RJ Barrett last 6 games:
25.5 points per game
5.3 role-playing game
50.0 3P% in 5.7 tries
The Knicks have won 5 of their last 6. pic.twitter.com/S1GENrri0R
— StatMuse (@statmuse) January 16, 2023
Barrett has now scored 30 or more points in three of his last six games, marking a return to shooting form for the 6-foot-6 forward. By comparison, he had scored at least 30 points just three times in his first 158 NBA games.
It was only in early December that Barrett, who had just returned from a stint in health and safety protocols, was going through a rough patch. After the Knicks were beaten, 113-99, by the injury-plagued Denver Nuggets, where Barrett scored just 13 points on 38 percent shooting and a dismal 1-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc, coach Tom Thibodeau backed the Canadian to break out of his slump.
“I have a lot of confidence in [Barrett] be able to get out of it,” Thibodeau said. “When you pitch, it’s been sick, and for me, you get rhythm when you work. Last year, it got going when he started coming every night to shoot. So there is no notion that you (work on your shot at the gym at night) sometimes, you have to do it all the time. So go back to the gym, improve your shot again. Shoot a lot of 3s and you’ll start to do more.”
The squad came through the clutch in the fourth 😤 pic.twitter.com/XJV45FPwGv
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 16, 2023
Considering how well Barrett and Randle have been playing lately, Coach Thibodeau would be encouraged to keep giving them the ball and playing with their confidence.
Randle, in particular, hopes his horror stretch of the season is behind him. Before the Hawks game, Randle was racking up career low numbers almost across the board. His points per game production is the lowest since the 2017-18 season. His field goal percentage of 41.4 percent is the lowest of his career. His assists (4.9 per game) are lower than last season (6.0 per game) and he was averaging a career high in turnovers (3.5 per game).
In 36 games this season, Barrett is averaging 16.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, while Randle is putting up 19.1 points, 10.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 41 games this season.
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