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RJ Barrett’s game-tying dunk goes to waste in Knicks’ loss

At the time, it felt like one of those magical Martin Luther King Jr. Day moments at the Garden. Up there with Trent Tucker’s 3-pointer to beat the Bulls and Patrick Ewing becoming the first player in franchise history to reach 15,000 career points.

Then, after a frustrating overtime, RJ Barrett’s game-tying dunk at the end of the regulation was quickly forgotten.

“The win would’ve been the most special thing,” he said after the Knicks’ 123-121 overtime loss to the Raptors.

The play was still special in its own right. Barrett grabbed the rebound of a Scottie Barnes miss at the free-throw line and went coast-to-coast for the game-tying dunk with 0.6 seconds left. It took him less than six seconds to go from one end of the floor to the other, and led to a raucous, albeit brief, celebration inside the Garden. Only Barnes picked Barrett up, and Barrett went right past him, as the other Raptors defended their men outside of the paint.

RJ Barrett
RJ Barrett sends the game to overtime with a last-second dunk.
Jason Szenes for The New York Post

“We were down two, there were six, seven seconds left, I knew I could go to the basket. So I tried to do that,” Barrett said. “I saw Scottie was there, so I knew if I passed him that I would have a wide-open layup or they would’ve all came in and we would have an open 3.”

It was part of a strong performance from Barrett, who finished with 32 points and seven rebounds in his fourth game back after missing two weeks with a lacerated right index finger. He started slowly on Monday, missing seven of his first eight shots, but then got hot and never really cooled down.

“He’s back, he’s back,” Jalen Brunson said. “He’s worked really hard to get back and try to get back into the rhythm, and I think this was his ‘I’m-back-in-rhythm’ game. I’m just excited [about] how he played tonight. I wish we could’ve brought home the win for him, because he played great, and he deserved it.”

Barrett played 49 minutes, and said he feels his conditioning is improving after his two-week absence. He scored 22 points in the second half and overtime. The only negative about Monday’s game was the final result, and that his dunk will not be remembered as fondly coming in defeat.

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