RJ Barrett expressed confidence in the Knicks' ability to win on the road after New York snapped a three-game losing streak and avoided a winless homestand by beating the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday afternoon.
"We've been really good on the road," said Barrett, a guard. "Also, we don't care. I think we could beat anybody. I think we could beat anybody anywhere."
For the Knicks, Monday night's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers - and the start of a pivotal three-game road trip against a trio of Eastern Conference contenders - would be a good time to start doing just that.
Like the Knicks - who defeated the Clippers 110-102 - the Cavaliers earned a home win in their previous game by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 94-87 on Saturday night.
Barrett's second double-double in the last four games - he finished with 28 points and 14 rebounds Sunday - sparked a much-needed win for the Knicks, whose homestand began with losses to the Charlotte Hornets, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans, all of whom, like New York, are scrambling for footing in the play-in tournament races in their respective conferences.
With Sunday's win, the Knicks improved to 23-24 and moved into a tie for 10th place in the Eastern Conference - and the final bid to the play-in tournament - with the Washington Wizards, whose 110-87 loss to the Boston Celtics allowed the Celtics to improve to 24-24 and move into a tie for eighth place with the Toronto Raptors.
The Knicks, who are 11-10 on the road and 12-14 at Madison Square Garden, will get a chance to better their playoff positioning against three teams currently occupying a spot within the top six. After visiting the fifth-place Cavaliers, New York is scheduled to visit the Miami Heat, who are in a virtual tie with the Brooklyn Nets for first in the East, and the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, who are in a virtual tie with the Chicago Bulls for third place.
"Was great to bounce back," Barrett said. "Just to play well really from start to finish like we did today was a great feeling and something that we can replicate."
Winning efforts have been replicated regularly lately for the Cavaliers, who are trying to make the playoffs without LeBron James on their roster for the first time since the 1998-99 season. Cleveland has won five of its last six games, all by 10 points or fewer.
But the Cavaliers weren't content following Saturday's win, when Cleveland led by as many as 17 in the third quarter before shooting just 26.7 percent (4-of-15) in the fourth quarter while fending off a late comeback attempt by the Thunder, which trailed by 11 with 3:14 left and got within six points three times thereafter.
"We've got a target on our back now," said Cavaliers point guard Darius Garland, who had 23 points and 11 assists. "Everybody wants to beat us, so we have to play the full 48 minutes. Coach (J.B. Bickerstaff) let us know that after the game, because we let up a little bit."
-Field Level Media