RJ Barrett explodes in Knicks’ win over Spurs

This was a night the Knicks didn’t need Julius Randle to shine. Thankfully. 

This was a night Randle couldn’t overshadow RJ Barrett like he did last Thursday when Barrett won the game on a miraculous banked buzzer-beater. 

Barrett exploded for 31 points as the Knicks ran away from the Spurs in the second half to post a 111-96 victory Monday at the Garden. Barrett made 12 of 20 shots, 3 of 4 from 3-point land, as the fans chanted his name all night. The Knicks hit the midpoint of the season at 20-21. 

A passive Randle was held to a season-low two points, going 1 of 7 — 0 for 3 from 3-point land. He scored on the first possession of the game and then didn’t score again — very eager to drop the ball off to a teammate. 

Randle was lightly booed during pregame introductions but heard it louder midway through the fourth quarter when he threw an errant pass.

RJ Barrett had a game-high 31-points.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

After that, fans started chanting the name of his backup, Obi Toppin, and soon Randle was mercifully pulled. In the final minute, a section in the upper tier began a “Randle sucks” chant. 

In the past two games since he gave a thumbs-down to the fans, Randle is shooting 7 of 26. 

Julius Randle scored a season-low two points against the Spurs.
Julius Randle scored a season-low two points against the Spurs.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

The Knicks didn’t need Randle as they had four other double-figure scorers — Evan Fournier (18 points), Immanuel Quickley (12 points), Alec Burks (16 points) and Mitchell Robinson (13 points). 

The Knicks struggled with the Spurs in the first half, trailing for much of it. But behind a Barrett surge, the Knicks came away with a 50-48 lead. Barrett finished with 14 points in the half. 

Mitchell Robinson dunks during the Knicks' win over the Spurs.
Mitchell Robinson dunks during the Knicks’ win over the Spurs.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

In the second quarter, the 2019 No. 3 pick scored eight straight points, initiated by his all-alone, left-handed windmill dunk, stealing a page from teammate Toppin. 

Barrett then barreled through for two straight powerful layups and was fouled on a fast break, making both free throws. 

Meanwhile, Randle was mostly passive after making the game’s first basket — an 18-footer from the right side. 

In the final seconds of the half, Randle demanded the ball, looking to go one-on-one with Spurs’ Keita Bates-Diop. But Randle didn’t see an opening to drive so he lofted a stepback 3-pointer that barely grazed the rim. 

Boos ensued as Randle walked off. There was a “We Want Obi” chant late in the first quarter but Randle was spared much of the anticipated venom.

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