After missing the previous nine games due to a high ankle sprain, rookie RJ Barrett made his return to the floor on Thursday as the Knicks defeated the Magic 105-103.
It was a successful return for the Duke product, as he scored 12 points (shooting 50 percent from the floor), while adding three rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes off the bench.
Barrett was asked after the game how he felt in his first game back since January 16.
"Sore, but you know, fighting through it," Barrett said. "It was great to be back out there with my teammates. I just had a lot of fun out there.
"I was just happy to be back out there. My mantra for this week is 'fun.' 'Just have fun with it,' and that's what I did. My teammates were great and we got a good win."
In his first pro season, Barrett has been a crucial part of this Knicks team, having started the all 41 games that he appeared in prior to Thursday, averaging 31 minutes per game.
The Knicks clearly are taking a cautious approach with him, as Barrett came off the bench for the first time and played just 18 minutes, but he's perfectly fine with how the team is handling him.
"I trust the staff. I trust the coaches and everybody," said Barrett. "Today they told me they were going to limit me a little bit, and they've been through this more than I have, and I trust them.
Barrett has played such a big role for this Knicks team, and that role now only appears to be growing, as the team traded leading scorer Marcus Morris to the Clippers on Thursday as part of a three-team deal.
Asked about the Morris trade, Barrett said it's never fun to see a teammate leave, but he knows the Knicks need to push through and continue to play team basketball.
"It's tough, especially to lose him. He was really great for us throughout the season," said Barrett. "He won the last two games for us at the end. It was tough to see him go. I texted him and told him I appreciated him, but like I said, it's a business and we've got to keep moving forward.
"Everybody knows we have a job to do. Everybody knows we're still a team and we've got to keep pushing, we've got to play every day and do our jobs, basically, and we did that tonight."