RJ Barrett recorded nine assists in Tuesday’s road loss to the Bulls while scoring 21 points—an efficient night for the rookie after two consecutive poor games.

R.J. Barrett played the very efficient and productive role in Tuesday’s road loss to the Chicago Bulls, shooting 50% from the field for 21 points and tallying a single-game career-best (so far) nine assists.

Besides Barrett, veteran forward/center Taj Gibson had a nice night in his return to Chicago, putting up 17 points in the mini-homecoming for the long-time Bull.

The Knicks’ latest loss, though, was a testament to the failing defense and further heats up David Fizdale’s seat with rumors swirling about an imminent change at New York’s head coaching job. While Fizdale has to manage a motley crue of a roster, including third-year guard Dennis Smith Jr. returning to the team after a bereavement leave, his superiors in the front office, team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry, are reportedly plotting to replace the second-year Knicks coach. On Tuesday, Fizdale kept a relatively short rotation; the starters, Frank Ntilikina, Barrett, Marcus Morris, Julius Randle, and Taj Gibson, and a bench pre–garbage time consisting of Bobby Portis, Kevin Knox, Smith, and Dotson.

That worked out fine—with New York keeping the deficit within a few possessions—until rookie Coby White caught fire in the fourth quarter, dousing any chance of a Knicks comeback with seven three-pointers in the final frame with his North Carolina coach Roy Williams in attendance.

White likely stole the show and headlines after the Bulls’ eventual 18-point win, but Knicks rookie Barrett snapped out a quick, two-game ugly cold spell and brought his game back to life, looking like the best player on the floor for either team for stretches on Tuesday.


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