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A good RJ Barrett is very good for Knicks

The Knicks' RJ Barrett keeps the ball from

The Knicks' RJ Barrett keeps the ball from Golden State Warriors' D'Angelo Russell in the first half on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. Credit: AP/Ben Margot

SACRAMENTO — As Mike Miller was conducting his pregame interview Friday night RJ Barrett leaned into the huddle of reporters and asked the Knicks interim coach, “You feeling good about this one?”

Miller responded, “ I’m feeling good. As long as RJ is RJ we can compete.”

Barrett was, well, RJ on Wednesday. He had 22 points and 10 rebounds in a 124-122 overtime win at Golden State; it was Miller’s first victory as an NBA coach. But that game by Barrett came after a 1-for-9 shooting, five-point performance in a 115-87 loss at Portland the night before. In the four games before Wednesday, Barrett shot just 23.1 percent.

“I’m just trying to play basketball. Make the right plays and just get my mojo back really,” Barrett said. “I was watching some film and I was like I gotta get back to playing like myself.”

Souvenir stored

When Miller got his first NBA head coaching victory Wednesday the players greeted him in the locker room at the Chase Center with congratulations and the game ball, handed to him by Damyean Dotson. But Miller said the celebration wasn’t just for him.

“It can go the other way because as excited as I was about it I was much more excited for them because they deserved it,” Miller said. “I was very happy for them and appreciative to have that moment with them.”

Asked if he still had the ball, Miller said, “It’s somewhere here. It’s in our possession somewhere.”

Injury update

Dennis Smith Jr. was back after missing the prior game with a migraine. But the Knicks were without Allonzo Trier, who suffered a concussion after colliding with a teammate while working out Thursday. Trier also will miss Sunday’s game at Denver. Wayne Ellington remains sidelined with a sore left Achilles tendon. G-League call-up Kadeem Allen is expected to join the team in Denver.

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