Knicks’ RJ Barrett peaking ahead of duel against Ja Morant

The timing of RJ Barrett’s improved shot-making ability and overall play is even harder to overlook as the 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year makes his lone appearance at the Garden this season when the improved Grizzlies come to town Friday night to face the Knicks.

Electrifying point guard Ja Morant was the No. 2-overall selection in the 2019 draft, one pick before the Knicks chose Barrett. Barrett’s Duke teammate Zion Williamson was the first-overall selection.

Barrett posted his second-most points in a game this season with 29 in Wednesday’s 101-99 loss in Boston. He has nailed 16 of his past 22 shots from 3-point range (72.7 percent) over his past five games, including six in as many attempts against the Celtics.

In his past 20 games, Barrett has posted 19.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting 46.9 percent from long distance.

Knicks RJ Barrett, Ja Morant
RJ Barrett, Ja Morant
NBAE via Getty Images (2)

“He’s been playing well. He’s coming into his own and knowing who he is as a player,” Julius Randle said of Barrett after Wednesday’s loss. “Down the stretch, he’s getting to his spots. He’s playing well. Very comfortable and continuing to grow as a player.”

Morant is averaging 18.8 points and 7.4 assists in 41 games this season for the Grizzlies, who currently are in the eighth playoff position (26-23) in the Western Conference.


Forward John Henson will miss his second straight game with a strained right calf since signing a 10-day contract on Monday.

The 76ers waived former Knick Ignas Brazdeikis on Thursday, two weeks after acquiring him in the three-team deal that sent Austin Rivers to the Thunder at the March 25 trade deadline. Rivers previously was waived by Oklahoma City, as were the two players the Knicks received in the deal, Terrance Ferguson and Vincent Poirier.