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Struggling RJ Barrett, Knicks take on Thunder


RJ Barrett said the shots are going to keep coming.

“The shot is wide open, I’m going to shoot it,” the New York Knicks’ small forward said. “I don’t have a conscience that way. I’m comfortable. I work too hard on my game.”

Barrett will try to end his most recent slump on Monday night when the Knicks visit the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second night of a back-to-back.

Over the Knicks’ past five games, Barrett is just 20 of 76 (26.3 percent) from the floor and 2 of 25 (8 percent) from 3-point range.

In Sunday’s loss at Phoenix, Barrett was 3 of 11 from the floor, including 1 of 3 from beyond the arc.

“It’s been the same all three years. He started slowly and it’s a steady climb,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I’m very confident in his shooting ability. So, just continue to put the work in, get some easy buckets. His shooting will come along. I’m very confident about that.”

Barrett’s recent struggles began in New York’s 145-135 loss to the Thunder on Nov. 13, though he’s struggled much of the season. Barrett, who is in his fourth season, is shooting a career-low 39.1 percent from the floor.

In the first meeting against Oklahoma City this year, Barrett was 2 of 10 from the field and finished with four points — his lowest-scoring performance in nearly a year.

While the Knicks are trying to get Barrett going, Oklahoma City will look to get Shai Gilgeous-Alexander back to being the kind of player he’s been for much of the season.

In Oklahoma City’s 121-110 loss at Memphis on Friday night, Gilgeous-Alexander had a season-low 15 points on 6-of-18 shooting. But he said he didn’t feel like he was getting worn down.

“Not really,” he said. “I just feel like I missed a lot of shots that I usually make.”

Still, the Thunder’s four-game trip was successful for Gilgeous-Alexander, who averaged 32.8 points, 7.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks.

Oklahoma City will be short-handed vs. the Knicks, with Aleksej Pokusevski, Tre Mann, Isaiah Joe, and Darius Bazley listed as out because of injuries.

Pokusevski is the newest addition to the Thunder’s injury report after suffering a left-ankle sprain in the second quarter of Friday’s loss. Pokusevski also injured that same ankle earlier in the week against Boston but returned in that game.

Joe missed that game with right-knee soreness while Bazley (right-ankle sprain) and Mann (lower-back soreness) have missed five and three consecutive games, respectively.

The Knicks were without forward Cam Reddish, who is dealing with a groin injury, in Sunday’s 116-95 loss to Phoenix.

Mitchell Robinson returned Sunday after missing eight games with a knee sprain, recording two points, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal off the bench.

The Thunder have won the past three meetings between the teams.

Monday’s game will begin a three-game homestand for Oklahoma City and will wrap up a five-game trip for New York.

After winning the first two games on their trip, the Knicks have dropped back-to-back games.

–Field Level Media









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