RJ Barrett put on a show to help his New York Knicks pull off one of their best wins of the season.
The rookie guard matched his career-high 27 points as the Knicks upset the surging Houston Rockets in one of the best games that Madison Square Garden has seen all season. The Rockets were on a tear coming into this meeting winning six-consecutive games, but their streak came to a halt falling just short in New York.
Barrett's 27 points came on an efficient 10-for-18 (55.6%) shooting from the field to go with five rebounds, four assists and a steal.
The Toronto, ON native had the hot hand early in this one, tallying 25 points after three quarters to get his Knicks out to a sizeable lead. When the Rockets came gunning back in the fourth quarter, cutting New York's lead all the way down to just one point, the Knicks went right back to their rookie guard despite his silence in the frame.
Yet to score since the third quarter, Barrett had the ball in his hands with just over 10 seconds on the clock and a one-point lead. Matched up with elite defender PJ Tucker, the Canadian rookie showed no fear in taking Houston's forward off the dribble.
He got to his spot and kissed the shot off the glass to give the Knicks a lead they wouldn't surrender.
RJ. BARRETT. CLUTCH 👊 pic.twitter.com/I0xcjY9dks- NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) March 3, 2020
Russell Westbrook would eventually have a chance to win the game at the buzzer, but his shot was just off the mark to give New York their 19th win of the season and 10th win at MSG.
Westbrook finished with 24 points and nine assists, including this vicious dunk that nearly tore down the rim.
The Brodie is cleared for takeoff! 🚀 pic.twitter.com/1LexoLhfzj- NBA TV (@NBATV) March 3, 2020
His teammate James Harden couldn't get much of anything to fall, shooting 8-for-22 from the field and 3-for-13 from 3, but still finished with 35 points as a product of a perfect 16-for-16 from the charity stripe.
Barrett's career night was rejuvenating for the rookie who has been through some ups and downs this season. He's strung together two quality performances in a row now after scoring 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting with four rebounds and three assists in the Knicks win over the Bulls in their last contest.
New York has now won consecutive games for just the fourth time this season.
Barrett is now averaging 14.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists shooting 40.0% from the field and 32.0% from 3 over 51 games.