Knicks’ RJ Barrett Hard on Himself Despite Big Game in Canada’s Comeback Win

RJ Barrett, Knicks, Canada

Getty Canada's RJ Barrett (R) attempts to dunk the ball as Latvia's Andrejs Grazulis defends.

New York Knicks wing RJ Barrett lamented his missed free throws despite scoring 22 points in Canada’s come-from-behind 101-75 rout of Latvia on Tuesday to sweep Group H in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

Barrett had an efficient shooting night on the floor for the second straight game after starting the tournament 1-of-10 against France. He was 9-of-14 from the field and 4-of-6 from the 3-point distance, but he singled out his poor free throw shooting.

“The last couple of games were a lot better for me. So, I’m just trying to continue to do that. I got to make some free throws, though,” Barrett told Sportsnet Canada after their third straight win.

Barrett missed all four free throws in the victory, which allowed Canada to come out of the group stages on top for the first time in the history of the World Cup.

Barrett is averaging 14.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists through three games with a 47/42/25 shooting split as his free throw shooting continues to be his weakest link. He’s a 70.9% foul shooter in the NBA.

RJ Barrett Sparks Canada Comeback

Barrett’s poor free throw shooting aside, the Knicks’ 2019 No. 3 pick was impressive as he sparked Canada’s comeback with seven points, bridging the end of the first half and the start of the third quarter.

His fastbreak layup at the buzzer completed Canada’s fightback from a 35-23 deficit and inched ahead 43-42 at halftime.

“We just said we need to deliver the first blow,” said Barrett of their mindset at halftime. “They got us in the beginning of the game. So we want to come out just with energy and toughness.”

Deliver the first blow they did as he scored half of Canada’s first 10 points in the third quarter to seize a 53-44 lead.

Latvia pulled within 55-54, but Canada responded with a 10-1 run for their first double-digit lead, which ballooned to 80-61 inside the final six minutes of the fourth quarter on a Barrett layup.

Barrett did not let up, wrapping up the victory with eight straight points in a 38-second stretch that gave Canada an insurmountable 95-72 lead.

“We stuck together, coach [Jordi Fernández] challenged us, and we got the job done,” Barrett said.

Lakers as Knicks Rival in Giannis Antetokounmpo?

The Los Angeles Lakers have emerged as the Knicks’ rival in a potential Giannis Antetokounmpo trade should the two-time MVP leaves Milwaukee, according to NBA insider Marc Stein.

“The Lakers and the Knicks are already being mentioned as franchises presumed to interest Antetokounmpo down the road if he does decide to move on from Milwaukee, which just made a slew of moves (re-signing Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez and replacing Mike Budenholzer as coach with Adrian Griffin) to try to appease its face of the franchise,” Stein wrote in his August 28 Substack newsletter.

Antetokounmpo’s future in Milwaukee came to focus after he told the New York Times that he’s unsure of signing an extension with the Bucks.

“The real question’s not going to be this year — numbers-wise it doesn’t make sense,” Antetokounmpo told New York Times’ Tania Ganguli. “But next year, next summer it would make more sense for both parties. Even then, I don’t know.”

Read More
Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments