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HomeSportsRJ Barrett pours in 35 points as Knicks clip Zion Williamson’s Pelicans

RJ Barrett pours in 35 points as Knicks clip Zion Williamson’s Pelicans


NEW ORLEANS — Zion Williamson came disguised for Halloween Week as a flamboyant spectator, sitting next to the baseline seats, on the last seat of the Pelicans’ bench.

The Pelicans star wore a very large bright yellow, hooded sweatshirt and had a pretty good seat to watch his former Duke buddy, RJ Barrett, put on a scary-spectacular, career-high show for the Knicks at Smoothie King Arena.

Barrett outscored the idle Williamson 35-0 in a sensational performance as the Knicks continued their red-hot start with a 123-117 victory over the woebegone Pelicans.

The 35 points matched Barrett’s career high. Barrett was great all game, shooting 12-for-18 and 6-for-8 from 3-point range and adding with eight rebounds and six assists, but he single-handedly held off the Pelicans’ late charge in the final two minutes as the Knicks improved to 5-1.

Barrett banged in a big 3-pointer with 1:40 left after the Pelicans had cut the Knicks’ lead to two, after which he shushed the crowd. The Knicks shot 19-for-33 from 3-point range.

RJ Barrett, who scored 35 points, drives on Nickeil Alexander-Walker during the Knicks' 123-117 win over the Pelicans.
RJ Barrett, who scored 35 points, drives on Nickeil Alexander-Walker during the Knicks’ 123-117 win over the Pelicans.
USA TODAY Sports

A driving Barrett then fed Taj Gibson for a layup with 1:05 left after the Pelicans came within two again. And Barrett topped it off with a 3-pointer with 43 seconds left, to put the Knicks up 119-112, after which he was mobbed by his mates.

After draining one 3-pointer from the corner early in the fourth quarter, Barrett turned and appeared to glance briefly at his former college brother.

RJ Barrett shoots a jumper over Herbert Jones during the Knicks' win.
RJ Barrett shoots a jumper over Herbert Jones during the Knicks’ win.
AP

The Pelicans are reeling at 1-6 — beset by Williamson’s season-long rehab from foot surgery. On Saturday, the Pelicans gave their other star, Brandon Ingram, a rest day after he woke up ”sore” after Friday’s loss to the Kings, rookie coach Willie Green said.

Barrett and the ever-stockier Williamson are on divergent paths with the Knicks’ swingman slowly emerging as a future All-Star and two-way player while the Pelicans’ injury history is becoming frightening.

Barrett’s gem followed his terrific 20-point outing in Chicago, when he also made a game-sealing stop on defense against DeMar DeRozan.

Williamson, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, has yet to make his season debut. The half-empty stands were a reflection of a fan base waiting for the return of a player who had been billed as the next Michael Jordan orLeBron James.

The Knicks, meanwhile, are off to their best start since 2012-13, when they opened 6-0. The case could be made the schedule hasn’t been rough, with two games against the Magic and one apiece versus the Pelicans and the below-.500 Celtics.

The Knicks came out bombing, with point guard Kemba Walker, Julius Randle and Barrett bagging early 3s as they jumped to a 14-3 lead after three minutes.

The Knicks maintained a comfortable lead for most of the first half with Barrett excelling. He even connected with Mitchell Robinson for an alley-oop. Barrett scored 10 points — as did Randle and Walker. The Knicks shot 9-for-18 from 3-point range in the half, but let a big lead slip away.

Before the game, Green said of the Knicks: “I’m impressed they shoot 50 3s. That’s typically not the case with any team [Tom Thibodeau] coaches. It’s great for the league the Knicks are playing as well as they are.’’



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