RJ Barrett is having a superstar stretch in the middle of his sophomore NBA season. After a mixed rookie year remembered for his inefficient shooting and a promise for something greater, Barrett’s taking his next steps toward greatness.
The 6'6 guard/forward's full offensive potential was on display in a blowout win over the Thunder on Saturday. Barrett scored a career-best 32 points on 12-of-21 shooting to lead all scorers. He knocked down 3-of-6 3-pointers, got to the line seven times and made five of them, and finished strong on takes around the rim. He even converted a bucket off an offensive board, dished three assists, and turned the ball over just once in 36 minutes.
Barrett’s on a hot streak. In his last seven games, he’s made an unreal 56-of-96 shots from the field and 14-of-25 3-point shooting. This is the level of play Knicks fans dreamed of from the franchise’s No. 2 pick in 2020, and he’s playing the perfect complementary scoring role to first-time All-Star Julius Randle.
The Knicks look destined for a playoff run, and for the first time in a long time, the franchise has reason to be excited. Finally, a lottery pick looks ready to compete.
Now let's talk about all eight games from Saturday night.
Knicks 119, Thunder 97
Julius Randle — Randle became the first Knicks player to record two triple-doubles in a season since Mark Jackson in 1988-89 on Saturday. He scored 26 points on 8-of-15 shooting (three made 3-pointers) with 12 rebounds, 12 assists, two steals, and just three turnovers.
RJ Barrett — Barrett scored a career-high 32 points on a sharp 12-of-21 shooting (three 3-pointers) with five rebounds, three assists, and a season-high three steals. He’s coming along quickly as the season progresses.
Immanuel Quickley — Frank Ntilikina keeps getting the starts, but Quickley is clearly the superior guard, and he even started the third quarter. He finished with 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting with four assists, three rebounds, and two steals.
Luguentz Dort — Dort’s been shooting poorly from the field, but he made and attempted a career-high 10 free-throws to finish with 14 points. He also added six rebounds and a career-high five assists.
Aleksej Pokusevski — Poku got his second start with Darius Bazley and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander sidelined but struggled. He scored just four points on 11 field goal attempts and returned to his ways of not getting to the free-throw line. Leave him on the wire as it seems the 19-year-old isn’t ready to play consistent, productive minutes.
Hornets 114, Raptors 100
Kyle Lowry — Lowry had a nice night, scoring 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting with eight assists, six rebounds, one steal, and just one turnover. It just wasn’t nearly enough to keep Toronto in this one.
LaMelo Ball — The rookie is so dang good. He scored 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, and 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point range with nine rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block, and just two turnovers in 31 minutes.
DeAndre Bembry — With so many Raptors sidelined, Bembry got another start and scored 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting with six rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocks, and four turnovers in 25 minutes.
Devonte’ Graham — Graham scored five 3-pointers, which was his most in a game since February 1st. He made them on nine attempts for 17 points with four assists and two rebounds.
Nets 100, Pistons 95
James Harden — Harden took over in the final minute and pulled out a close game over a weaker opponent. He finished with 24 points on 8-of-19 shooting without a 3-pointer (8-of-8 from the free-throw line) with 10 assists, 10 rebounds, two steals, three blocks, and four turnovers in 38 minutes.
Kyrie Irving — Irving scored 18 points on 8-of-18 shooting, relinquishing hero-ball duties to Harden in the game’s final minutes. Irving also missed all of his 3-point attempts but added five assists, four rebounds, three steals, one block, and four turnovers.
Jerami Grant — Grant had a solid night scoring 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting with one 3-pointer, three rebounds, two assists, one block, and three turnovers.
Mason Plumlee — Plumlee neared triple-double numbers with 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting, nine rebounds, six assists, and one steal.
DeAndre Jordan — DJ didn’t do anything overwhelming, but he did finish with 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting (dunks and layups) with nine rebounds, one block, and one steal.
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Bucks 125, Wizards 119
Giannis Antetokounmpo — This game shouldn’t have been nearly as close as it was without Bradley Beal (knee soreness) in the lineup, but Giannis closed things out with a triple-double. He scored 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting with 11 assists, 11 rebounds, one steal, one block, and four turnovers in 36 minutes. He also made a pair of 3-pointers.
Jrue Holiday — Holiday had a well-rounded game with 18 points (on just 6-of-18 shooting), eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, one block, and three turnovers in 32 minutes.
Rui Hachimura — Hachimura played maybe the best game of his career with 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting, 11 rebounds, three steals, and one assists with two turnovers in 38 minutes.
Russell Westbrook — With Beal sidelined, Westbrook took over with 42 points on 16-of-32 shooting (five made 3-pointers on 11 tries), 12 assists, 10 rebounds, two steals, and six turnovers.
Hawks 121, Kings 106
De’Aaron Fox — Fox was sharp, scoring 32 points on 11-of-24 shooting with seven rebounds, six assists, one steal, and three turnovers in 40 minutes. He made 8-of-10 free-throws but only 2-of-10 3-pointers.
Trae Young — Young scored 28 points on 9-of-17 shooting (five 3-pointers) with nine assists, one rebound, one steal, and four turnovers in 32 minutes.
Clint Capela — Capela scored 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting with 14 rebounds, two blocks, one assist, and one turnover in 27 minutes. He only made 4-of-10 free-throws, but you punt this category with him anyway.
Richaun Holmes — Holmes double-doubled on 9-of-15 shooting to score 20 points with 12 rebounds. He also added a rebound and one block.
Trail Blazers 125, Timberwolves 121
Damian Lillard — Lillard double-doubled with 24 points on 7-of-17 shooting with 10 assists, four rebounds, and two turnovers in 36 minutes. He made 3-of-9 3-pointers and 7-of-8 free-throws.
Carmelo Anthony — MELO! Anthony scored 24 points on 7-of-12 shooting with two 3-pointers and a perfect 8-of-8 free-throw shooting. He also added four assists, two steals, one block, and one turnover in 31 minutes off the bench.
Karl-Anthony Towns — KAT scored a game-high 34 points on 12-of-21 shooting with a pair of made 3-pointers and perfect 8-of-8 free-throw shooting. He also added eight rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, and two turnovers.
Enes Kanter — Kanter’s 20 points came on 8-of-12 shooting. He added 11 rebounds, two assists, and no turnovers in 32 minutes.
Jaylen Nowell — Off the bench, Nowell scored 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting (three made 3-pointers) with five rebounds, one assist, and three turnovers in 28 minutes.
Pacers 122, Suns 111
Domantas Sabonis — Sabonis was stellar in the win, triple-doubling with 22 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists, four steals, one block, and five turnovers in 43 minutes.
Malcolm Brogdon — Brogdon scored 25 points on 8-of-16 shooting (four 3-pointers) with five rebounds, four assists, and one steal.
Myles Turner — Turner scored 16 points on a super-efficient 7-of-8 shooting from the field. He also added eight rebounds, two assists, four blocks, one steal, and no turnovers in 30 minutes.
Devin Booker — Booker scored 20 points but it came on 9-of-20 shooting with seven assists, four rebounds, and six turnovers.
Chris Paul — Paul shot poorly from the field, making just 2-of-10 shots for eight points, but had 10 assists, four rebounds, four steals, and just two turnovers in 34 minutes.
Caris LeVert — LeVert played his first game since a mass was removed from his kidney and scored 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting with seven rebounds and two assists in his Pacers debut.
Mavericks 116, Nuggets 103
Luka Doncic — Doncic scored 21 points on 7-of-16 shooting (three 3-pointers) with 12 assists, five rebounds, and just three turnovers in 33 minutes.
Kristaps Porzingis — Porzingis scored a team-high 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting (five 3-pointers) with six rebounds, one assist, one steal, and three blocks.
Josh Richardson — Richardson scored 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting (four 3-pointers), with four rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
Nikola Jokic — The MVP candidate nearly triple-doubled in the loss with a game-high 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting, 11 assists, nine rebounds, and three turnovers in 36 minutes.
Michael Porter Jr. — He scored an efficient 23 points on 7-of-9 shooting (four 3-pointers), but added nothing else to his eight rebounds in 23 minutes. He didn't turn the ball over, though.
Will Barton — Barton scored 23 points on 8-of-17 shooting (five 3-pointers) and added four rebounds, two assists, one steal, and two turnovers in 36 minutes.