Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau sticks with slumping RJ Barrett

RJ Barrett’s shooting woes didn’t land him a spot on the bench Saturday night.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau closed with Barrett despite an ugly 6-for-21 shooting performance in part because he wanted to match up with the Clippers’ length in a 134-128 overtime loss at the Garden. On Tuesday, in a loss to the Lakers, Thibodeau benched Barrett in the fourth quarter and went with Immanuel Quickley instead.

To Barrett’s credit, he did score six points in the fourth quarter Saturday as the Knicks rallied from a 17-point deficit. He only shot 1-for-8 from 3-point range, however, and is 1-for-16 from distance over the past three games. He even heard some lights boos at one point in the fourth quarter.

“Guys are going to go through ups and downs,” Thibodeau said. “As long as they’re good shots, if you miss good shots, you got to keep shooting. If you’re not shooting well, just do other things to help us win.”

The Knicks were outscored by 20 points during Barrett’s 44 minutes.

RJ Barrett looks to make a move on Nicolas Batum during the Knicks 134-128 overtime loss to the Clippers.
RJ Barrett looks to make a move on Nicolas Batum during the Knicks 134-128 overtime loss to the Clippers.

The Clippers attempted 35 free throws in the win, and of their 19 points in overtime, 15 came from the charity stripe.

“Some of them were tough calls. It’s hard to define marginal, particularly with Paul George and Kawhi [Leonard],” Thibodeau said. “I thought Jalen [Brunson] got hit a lot, and they’re long and they’re handsy. I don’t have a problem with physicality, it’s just I would like the game to be called consistently. But I’m not putting it on [the officials].”

The Clippers were without John Wall (abdomen). … The Knicks are in the midst of a difficult stretch of games in which they will face nine teams with winning records in 12 games. So far, they are 3-3, beating the Cavaliers, Celtics and Heat, while losing to the Nets, Lakers and Clippers.

In the nine games since Mitchell Robinson was sidelined with a fractured right thumb, the Knicks have allowed at least 116 points seven times.

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