Rookies always seem to have that "Welcome to the pros" moment. Whether it's a running back taking a big hit in the NFL, or a recent call-up facing one of the best big-league pitchers, there's always a moment.
RJ Barrett may have just experienced that moment in just his second NBA game.
After a ferocious comeback put the Knicks ahead 109-108 with just under 30 seconds left, the Nets put the ball in the hands of Kyrie Irving, and the recently signed superstar delivered.
The Nets simply game Irving the ball and got out of his way, and with Barrett defending him one-on-one, Irving hit a step-back three from the right wing.
"I got to my spot and raised up," Irving said. "Grateful that I made it."
The shot was nearly identical to the one Irving hit as a member of the Cavaliers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, when he knocked down a three over Steph Curry to help secure a championship for Cleveland.
This time, it gave the Nets a 111-109 lead, which the Nets held onto for their first win over the Knicks since refueling the crosstown rivalry this offseason with the additions of Irving and Kevin Durant.
"That's a great player making a great shot," David Fizdale said after the game. That's what closers do. Just a tough shot."
"It was a heck of a step-back he hit on the right side, that was some shot," Kenny Atkinson said of the shot. "Happy for him, thought he played really well again, really well."
After the game, Barrett tipped his hat to Irving for knocking down the biggest shot of the night.
"He's earned it," said Barrett. "He's a great player, a champion, and great players make great plays, and that's what he did tonight.
"It's the same shot he hit to win a championship against Golden State. It's tough. I was right there. There's nothing else you can do about that one."
Barrett had a bit of an up-and-down night in his second NBA outing. He finished with 16 points, six steals, three rebounds, and three assists, but he shot just 7-of-16 from the floor and was 0-for-3 from the charity stripe.
But he finished second on the team with 35 minutes played, and he was a key part of a Knicks comeback effort that erased a 19-point third-quarter deficit.
Even though Irving and the Nets came away with the win on Friday, Barrett was proud of the way the Knicks hung tough.
"We just kept fighting," said the rookie. "We know we're underdogs, but we're going to keep fighting. That's what you need to do."