Knicks surge to third straight win behind Randle and Barrett

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Written By Nick Metallinos

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Julius Randle, RJ Barrett (New York Knicks)
(NBA Getty Images)

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 consecutive win, beating the Hawks in Atlanta, 117-108.

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Randle and Barrett combined for 50 points, with Barrett finishing with 26 points, five rebounds and three assists, and Randle adding 24 points and nine assists as the Knicks won for the fifth time in their last six games.

With the win, the Knicks have equaled their longest winning streak of the season (three) which they’ve done on two other occasions this season. 

They move to 22-21 on the season (back in the play-in seedings). This is the first time the Knicks have been above .500 since Nov. 30 when they were 11-10. They’re 8-3 starting on Christmas and 5-1 since the New Year.

“It feels good for sure. That’s what we’re working for,” Barrett said post-game. “We had a tough month but it’s starting to pick up again now. It’s exciting to be a part of.”

Barrett has now scored 30 or more points in three of his last six games, marking a return to form shooting the ball 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 shooting slump. After the Knicks were beaten, 113-99, by the injury-riddled Denver Nuggets, where Barrett scored just 13 points on 38 percent shooting and a dismal 1-of-7 clip from beyond the arc, coach Tom Thibodeau backed the Canadian to break out of his slump

“I have a lot of confidence in [Barrett] being able to work his way out of it,” Thibodeau said. “When you throw in, he’s been sick, and to me, you get rhythm when you work. Last year, he got going when he started coming in every night to shoot. So there’s no notion that you (work on your shot in the gym at night) sometimes, you got to do it all the time. So get back in the gym, get back to grooving your shot. Shoot a lot of threes, and you’ll start making more.”

Considering how great Barrett and Randle have been playing as of late, coach Thibodeau would be encouraged to continue feeding them the ball and playing off their confidence.

Randle, in particular, is hoping his horror stretch of the season is behind him. Prior to the Hawks game, Randle was putting up career-low numbers almost across the board. His points per game output is his lowest since the 2017-18 season. His 41.4 percent field-goal percentage is a career-low. His assists (4.9 per game) are down from last season (6.0 per game) and he was averaging a career-high in turnovers (3.5 per game).

Through 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 through 41 games this season. 

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