RJ Barrett’s shooting woes continue in return to lineup

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RJ Barrett’s 108-game playing streak ended Thursday against the Bulls, and though Barrett made his return Saturday from a non-COVID-19 illness, he still hasn’t ended his run of bad 3-point shooting. 

In the Knicks’ 113-99 blowout loss to the Nuggets at the Garden, Barrett shot just 1-for-7 from 3-point range and finished with 13 points (5-for-13 overall). 

Barrett, who played in all 72 games in 2020-21 and had played this season’s first 21 games, wasn’t 100 percent, but said he was good enough to play. Against the Nets on Tuesday, Barrett played just the first seven minutes, and it was ugly. 

“I was messed up. In the Brooklyn game, I kept running back and throwing up,’’ Barrett said. “Then I came back out and tried to play, threw up again. So, I just had to shut it down for a couple of days, and [I] feel a lot better. I don’t know what it was. Whatever it is, it’s gone.’’ 

Knicks
RJ Barrett was just 5-13 from the field against the Nuggets.
Robert Sabo

Barrett hasn’t put his finger on a reason for his 13-game shooting slump. He’s hitting just 23 percent of his 3-pointers in that span. Before that, he had a brilliant five-game stretch of scoring 20-plus points. 

“No idea,” Barrett said. “I think especially — at the beginning of the year, when a team is trying to figure itself out, just also figuring out the shots that I’m gonna get during the game with this team with new players and I think I’ve kinda figured that out now. 

“I’ve just been working on the shots I know I’m gonna get and certain other shots, But I’ve been in shooting funks before. I’m not really too worried about it.’’ 

Barrett isn’t too concerned about the Garden boos as the Knicks fell to 5-8 at home. 

“I’ve heard worse,’’ Barrett said. “My rookie year [2019-20] was a lot worse, so nah. Every team has a game or a couple games like this during the season, so not too worried about it. We just got to fight.’’ 


Nikola Jokic (32 points) had an interaction with Spike Lee and said there’s something about the Garden that brings out his best. 

Knicks
Nikola Jokic speaks with Spike Lee during the Knicks’ blowout loss to the Nuggets.
AP

“I think it’s a really nice arena,’’ Jokic said. “It just seems like I play here always good. I’m thankful for that. I like something here. I don’t know what it is.’’ 


The Knicks trailed by 30 points with 9:00 left, but that didn’t stop coach Tom Thibodeau from keeping Julius Randle on the court for the final 7:30. Randle was joined by key rotation guys Derrick Rose and Evan Fournier. 

Since Denver coach Mike Malone had already removed Jokic, it seemed another curious move by Thibodeau to not play some of the end-of-bench guys, such as Kevin Knox. In Thibodeau’s defense, he did have rookie shooting guard Quentin Grimes in there. 

Thibodeau explained he wanted to get a longer look of Randle and Obi Toppin in a small-ball alignment. Not surprisingly, the Knicks chipped away at the deficit and wound up losing by just 14 points. 

“We ended up putting Julius at the five, with Obi, and we were just trying to find something,’’ Thibodeau said. “When you get down the way we’re getting down, you’re searching. I thought Quentin gave us good minutes [in the fourth]. I like the way he played. He played hard, played both sides of the ball.’’ 


Denver (11-11) was missing three players due to COVID-19: ex-Knick Austin Rivers, who had a falling out with Thibodeau last season, Bol Bol and Bones Hyland. The Nuggets were also missing Jamal Murray (rehabbing from a torn ACL) and Michael Porter Jr. (back surgery). … Knicks center Nerlens Noel made his return from a knee sprain and was a team-worst minus-24. 

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