Saturday, March 2, 2024
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Knicks spoil MSG return of RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley behind dominant Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson showings

There’s a popular saying dating back to the 1940s: “You can’t go home again.” On Saturday night, former Knicks RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley learned that axiom’s meaning all too well.

In their first game at Madison Square Garden as members of the Toronto Raptors, Barrett and Quickley suffered through a 126-100 loss at the hands of the New York Knicks. The lopsided matchup came just three weeks after Barrett and Quickley were traded along with a second-round pick for OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn.

Barrett and Quickley were met with an ovation from the MSG crowd during pregame introductions, and the Knicks displayed a tribute video of their young former players during an early timeout.

“New York should be extremely proud of [Quickley and Barrett]; they raised them,” Knicks forward Julius Randle said after the game. “They were brought up here and now they’re going to take off and they’re going to flourish for many more years.”

That’s about where the fun ended for Barrett, Quickley and the Raptors, however, as the Knicks went on a dominant second-half run to turn the game into a laugher.

For what it’s worth, both of the Knicks’ former players had solid games. Quickley finished with 12 points and 11 assists on 4-for-8 shooting. Barrett put up 20 points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes, going 8-for-15 from the field — though the 80% free throw shooter curiously went 3-for-9 from the stripe, prompting former teammate Julius Randle to appear to shout “I’m in his head!” as Barrett missed yet another freebie.

Randle had every right to talk, since he absolutely dominated Toronto with 18 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists, logging the 14th triple-double of his career and eighth as a member of the Knicks — the fourth-most in franchise history. Not to be outdone, Jalen Brunson delivered another masterful performance with 38 points and nine assists on 5-for-11 3-point shooting.

In his first game against the franchise where he spent the first six seasons of his NBA career, Anunoby finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks on 5-for-11 shooting. The Knicks are now 9-2 with the 3-and-D wing, and the team’s net rating has improved by a mind-boggling 41.2 points per 100 possessions with Anunoby on the floor compared to when he sits.

The Raptors are clearly headed in a different direction after trading Anunoby and Pascal Siakam already this season, with more moves likely on the way. Barrett and Quickley both joined the starting lineup immediately and have performed well so far. They should flank Scottie Barnes for the foreseeable future as the Raptors hope for a rapid rebuild.

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