RJ Barrett has consistently been among the NBA leaders in minutes played, and he entered Sunday’s game averaging 35.2 minutes per game, most among the Knicks and in the top 25 in the NBA. But after picking up his fourth foul early in the third quarter Sunday, he went to the bench and never returned.
Barrett played only 19:25, enduring a 2-for-10 shooting performance with four points, two turnovers and no assists. He played only 2:02 in the second half.
“We just got behind by so much,” coach Tom Thibodeau said after the Knicks' 145-135 loss to the Thunder. “We were looking for life and that group that was in there gave us a little bit of a spark and so that’s what we went with.”
“I think it’s time when you’re fouling enough,” Barrett said of sitting and watching the entire fourth quarter. “We just got to play harder. It’s not like we’re not playing hard at all, but we got to compete more. Can’t just let people get what they want. Can’t let one guy have 30-something, another guy have 20- something. Another guy gets a triple-double. We can’t allow stuff like that. It was too easy for them.”
Evan Fournier has had to adjust to reduced minutes this season and has struggled to find his offensive rhythm. Since he was moved out of the starting lineup, his minutes have been spotty, and in the last two games, he has shot 0-for-10, including 0-for-5 from beyond the arc.
“Well, I mean, the thing is when you only shoot three times a game — yeah, so I’m 0-for-5 tonight . . . which is not good, obviously, but it adds up,” Fournier said. “It adds up. And at the end of the season, you look at your percentage and it’s not good. But it’s just hard to find a rhythm right now. I think not knowing the rotation, what’s coming your way, et cetera, et cetera. I have to do a better job of all that and just being in the moment, being ready for whatever.”
Like Derrick Rose, he said he has had no conversation about his role with Thibodeau.
“No, there’s no reason for me to talk to him about that,” Fournier said. “It’s not about me. It’s about us, winning games. And yeah, I’m gonna try to do my best with what I have.
“Probably my second year [was the last time he played so little]. I’m not gonna lie; I’m getting stiff on the bench now because I’m a little bit older. My knees can’t take it anymore. But yeah, it’s not an excuse at all. I just have to figure it out myself so I can help the team. That’s all I can say, really.”
Good company for Giddey
Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey became the second player — joining Wilt Chamberlain — to post triple-doubles in his first two games at Madison Square Garden. He finished with 24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds Sunday. He had 28 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds at the Garden last season.