Knicks’ RJ Barrett addresses frustration with being benched in opposition to Lakers

Feb 2, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) controls the ball against Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden.

Feb 2, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) controls the ball in opposition to Miami Warmth ahead Jimmy Butler (22) throughout the fourth quarter at Madison Sq. Backyard. / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports activities

The temper inside Madison Sq. Backyard was very completely different Thursday evening.

The Knicks pulled off a good 106-104 win over the Miami Heat, and RJ Barrett, who was benched by coach Tom Thibodeau down the stretch in New York’s loss to the Lakers on Tuesday, performed an enormous half within the victory.

After Tuesday’s loss, Barrett, who has been accessible to the media all through his NBA tenure, simply refused to speak. Once more, Thursday was very completely different.

“Hiya everyone, I’m speaking to you guys immediately,” Barrett joked as he arrived at Thursday’s postgame assembly with the media.

There was loads to be jokey about. Not solely did the Knicks beat an opponent who’s forward of them within the standings, however Barrett scored a team-high 30 factors, and added eight rebounds and 4 assists.

Those that watched Tuesday’s recreation in opposition to the Lakers noticed that Barrett wasn’t himself on either side of the ball. He scored simply 13 factors in 27 minutes. In opposition to the Warmth, it regarded just like the 23-year-old was on a mission and he drove to the basket loads, which led to him going 13-of-18 from contained in the arc.

“Be aggressive. Play my recreation. I actually haven’t had that aggression from begin to end shortly,” Barrett defined the distinction between his two video games. “In the present day, I attempted to do this. Media received’t see quite a lot of the issues happening, however we actually labored collectively loads tonight. That’s actually a credit score to the entire crew.”

Barrett credited the fixed communication all through the sport as an enormous purpose for a way the crew performed Thursday evening, particularly with out Jalen Brunson who was out with a non-COVID associated sickness. Merely put, Barrett mentioned they have been “very locked in tonight.”

Good win apart, Barrett was requested about his benching and though the Duke product appeared to not know precisely he supplied his opinion.

“Took too lengthy to get going. Similar to tonight. I missed each single three,” he mentioned. “I used to be nonetheless capable of finding a method. It’s not likely an excuse.”

Thibodeau defined after Tuesday’s recreation that he simply favored how the group that was on the court docket within the closing minutes of the fourth quarter in opposition to the Lakers was taking part in higher with out Barrett. One thing he echoed in his pregame assembly Thursday.

“We all know [Barrett’s] a vital a part of our crew. We’d like him to play properly. However we’re all the time going to place the crew first,” Thibodeau mentioned. “We thought the group that was on the market gave us the very best shot. More often than not he’s ending the sport. Simply get on the market and play. I don’t fear about missed pictures as a lot as serving to out any method you may.”

When Barrett was requested about his seen frustration together with his benching, he downplayed it

“I’m human. I get pissed off identical to everyone does generally,” he mentioned. “My momma advised me for those who don’t have something good to say, do not say it in any respect.”

There was loads of good to say Thursday evening, and the Knicks will hope that stays particularly with Barrett’s on-court efficiency. In his first three seasons, Barrett has been infamous for being a sluggish starter by way of his scoring and this 12 months has been no completely different.

Getting into Thursday, Barrett is averaging 20.1 factors, 5.4 rebounds and a couple of.8 assists per recreation. That’s near his numbers from final season, which is taken into account his breakout 12 months. Maybe the addition of Brunson has put added expectations on the younger guard.

This week’s benching may very well be a wake-up name for Barrett to play as much as what the group believes he can. For the Knicks sake this season, he must.

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