Knicks’ RJ Barrett reacts to Garden crowd chanting his name in win over Pacers

RJ Barrett slight flex on Pacers white uniform good shot

As the third quarter wound down in Tuesday night’s matchup between the Knicks and Indiana Pacers, the Madison Square Garden crowd broke out into a boisterous, unmistakable chant:

RJ Barrett! RJ Barrett!

And those chants were well-deserved. Barrett’s 32 points led the Knicks to a 104-94 over Indy to snap a two-game losing streak.

“It was cool. Definitely in The Garden, hearing the crowd chant your name is a lot of fun,” Barrett said after the game. “I’m blessed that I was able to do that and hear that today.”

Nineteen of Barrett’s 32 points came in an outstanding first quarter, and when taking a look at his final stat line, one thing that jumps out is that just five of his 20 shot attempts came from three-point range. Rather than relying on the three, Barrett attacked the basket all night long, hitting 12-of-20 shots while also knocking down 6-of-8 free throws.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau said afterwards that Barrett was “incredible” to start the game, while pointing out that so much of the Knicks offense is built upon driving to the rim, as the Duke product did against the Pacers.

Barrett echoed those thoughts as well.

“Just trying to be aggressive, that’s really it,” he said. “When you get into the paint and you make reads, you either finish or you kick out, so it puts pressure on the defense. The whole defense collapses and then it’s easy basketball after that. So, I think that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Barrett is now averaging 15.7 points per game this season, and while that number is slightly down from his 17.6 points last year, the third-year pro is feeling more comfortable with his overall game, and he sees the Knicks beginning to round into form after a difficult start.

“I definitely feel like I’m capable. It’s been a crazy up-and-down year with being sick, being out, all different types of things,” said Barrett. “I think that people are coming back slowly and hopefully once we get back and rolling, that this is what to helped from us, hopefully.”

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