Barrett scores 31, Knicks pull away to beat Spurs 111-96

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NEW YORK (AP) — RJ Barrett scored 31 points in his first home game since hitting his first career buzzer beater, leading the New York Knicks to a 111-96 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night.

Evan Fournier returned from a one-game absence with 18 points for the Knicks, who broke open a game that had been close throughout by outscoring the Spurs 18-2 to start the fourth quarter.

Barrett had five straight points to open the final period, which started with the Knicks ahead just 82-75. By the time the Knicks hit three consecutive 3-pointers to end their spurt, it was 100-77.

Barrett banked in a 3-pointer last Thursday to give the Knicks a 108-105 victory over Boston. Fournier scored a career-high 41 points in that game, but missed the Knicks' loss in Boston on Saturday in the back end of the home-and-home with a bruised left thigh.

The Knicks won for the third time in four games to reach the midpoint of their schedule at 20-21.

But it was another rough night for Julius Randle, the Knicks' All-Star last season whose dip this season has frustrated fans. Randle gave the crowd a thumbs down during the victory over Boston on Thursday — and was later fined $25,000 by the NBA for using profanity when explaining his motivation.

Randle shot 1 for 7 for two points, though did grab 12 rebounds. The boos were noticeable when he shot an airball and later committed a turnover, as were the “Obi Toppin! Obi Toppin!” chants from fans that were calling for Randle's backup to replace him.

Dejounte Murray scored 24 points for the Spurs, who finished a 1-6 road trip. Jakob Poeltl had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Neither team led by more than eight in the first half, which ended with the Knicks leading 51-49 after Barrett's strong finish.

He helped them finally build a double-digit cushion in the third. Barrett had a basket, converted a three-point play and found Quentin Grimes for a jumper as the Knicks extended a four-point edge to 78-67.

TIP-INS

Spurs: Besides their six players in health and safety protocols, the Spurs were also missing center Jock Landale because of back spasms. ... Lonnie Walker IV scored 15 points.

Knicks: Kemba Walker missed his sixth straight game with a sore left knee and Nerlens Noel missed his 10th in a row as he regains his conditioning after being in health and safety protocols. Coach Tom Thibodeau said both are close to returning.

SILENT START

The Knicks held a moment of silence before the game for the 17 people killed, including eight children, Sunday after a fire in a 19-story building in the Bronx. Fans cheered when the team also thanked the first responders who were on the scene in the city’s deadliest blaze in more than three decades.

UP NEXT

Spurs: Host Houston on Wednesday.

Knicks: Host Dallas on Wednesday.

Brian Mahoney, The Associated Press

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