Julius Randle returned from the COVID-19 protocols and RJ Barrett became an effective force.
A season ago, that tandem of Batman and Robin exploded in the Pacers, who managed to score 62 points, winning 104-94 in the Garden on Tuesday.
It was a 30-30 club and it looked like a retro night of the 2020-21 season.
Barrett scored 32 points – 24 in the first half – Randle physically punished the Pagers all night, scoring 12-for-20 and 30 points. He also scored 15 rebounds.
Barrett played 12 of 20 from the field and scored 6 of eight free kicks. The pair only scored 3 points from two and showed a relentless spirit in attacking the basket.
(Randle’s three indicator balls jumped off the iron and rang at 2:00, but he was shaken by a hand.)
When Randle received a lot of heat and was with COVID-19, the Knicks were 0: 2, which didn’t fit the shape of a superstar a season earlier.
As a sign of broken times, even when Randle was rolling in the second half, when their lone star Randle stepped into the free-kick line, fans said Barrett’s name. Last season, they always shouted “MVP” when kicking penalty kicks.
Barrett sang most of the evening as the Knicks (18-20) survived a goalless night in the 22nd minute after missing all four shots of 2021 free agent Evan Furnier.
Obi Toppin, who many fans dreamed of shortening Randle’s minutes, scored two points in nine minutes after starting the last two games in forward.
Barrett scored 17 points in the first seven minutes of the game and 24 points at the break. Despite relentless attacks on the basket and beautiful, spinning goals, the Knicks were unable to get out even before the first half.
Extraordinary starting guard Kiefer Sykes and his 16 points put the Pacers with the Nicks at 55-55 in the break. The Knicks no longer have players in any protocol. There are eight in the Pacers.
Sykes, who did not make the draft in 2015, had 12 points in just three NBA games during his career in the NBA. His anonymous activities have taken place in the G-League, Turkey, Italy and Australia.
Sykes, meanwhile, became a sterling shotmaker, scoring 4 of 8 3 points and finishing with 20 points.
At the revolving door in the guard, Tibodo started Alec Burks instead of the rookie Miles McBride, who started the first two.
After Randle came back, Barrett took control of the game, driving relentlessly, making fouls and also scoring his first two 3-point shots.
Throwing all his effort, Barrett scored 8 of 12 and 6 of 7 free throws in the best half of his young career as the Knicks ran 16-0 to close the 18-10 gap.
Barrett had a great second season, but came back in the third season.