MIAMI -- New York Knicks swingman RJ Barrett sat behind a table inside a small room at the Kaseya Center late Friday night as his team was eliminated from the postseason by the Miami Heat and looked through the box score of a 96-92 loss that has haunted him all season. .
Not that his Knicks returned home after making it to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time in 10 years. It was that he couldn't believe he went 1 for 10 when his team needed him the most. After a few moments, Barrett finally added a word that described how he felt:
"How wonderful." "I played terrible," he said moments later. "I'm very disappointed with the way I played today. It's a lot now. You're fighting for something, you want something so bad -- I don't think I played my best, so it hurts, but it's good. Experiences like this, You can learn from them.
The Knicks can take solace in the fact that they've grown as a team this season, but the reality of Friday's performance "stung a little bit," guard Jalen Brunson said.
Brunson, who scored a game-high 41 points in 45 minutes -- two nights after playing all 48 minutes in a Game 5 win -- can take solace that he did everything he could to try to get his team to the finish line. After Branson's 14-for-22 night from the field, the rest of the Knicks combined for 5-for-32.
With coach Tom Thibodeau and the rest of his players disappointed with the outcome of the series, the Knicks are confident they can learn from the mistakes they made against the Heat and grow from them in the future.
"A lot of good moments, a lot of growth moments," Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle said in summing up his season. "Things we should be proud of and things we can learn from. I think we'll all take time to reevaluate everything and figure out what we can do better moving forward."
Randle missed the final two weeks of the regular season with a sore left ankle, then aggravated it in Game 5 of the first-round series win over the Cleveland Cavaliers and forced him to miss Game 1 of the Heat series.
Game 6 reinforced some of his struggles for runs over the past two seasons with the Knicks. After a 2021 first-round loss to the Atlanta Hawks, his play has been up and down again throughout this postseason, culminating in a 3-for-14 performance Friday night.