RJ Barrett New York Knicks
Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The New York Knicks have now lost four consecutive games, after falling 123-112 to the Houston Rockets on Monday night. They are 17-40. The Knicks no longer need to worry about trying to make the playoffs, which means they can give their young players increased playing time.

Mitchell Robinson leads the NBA in field goal percentage at 73.2 percent, but averages just 22.6 minutes of playing time per game. He played 26 minutes yesterday and stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 10 points, eight rebounds, five blocks, two steals and two assists.

RJ Barrett is one of the few young Knicks who has been given consistent playing time this season. The team played through Barrett early in the game and he took advantage of it, scoring 14 points in the first quarter. The team looked to veterans Bobby Portis and Julius Randle more often as the game went on and Barrett’s hot shooting cooled off but he still managed to score 21 points.

With Frank Ntilikina and Elfrid Payton both injured, Dennis Smith Jr., who has often been a healthy scratch, is getting a chance to play significant minutes. Although he is not known for his defense, Smith Jr. had seven steals against the Rockets, the most he’s ever had in a game. He also added 15 points.

Kevin Knox continued to struggle last night, as he finished with just three points in 12 minutes. Look for his playing time to increase though, as the Knicks try to give him confidence and momentum heading into the offseason.

With 25 games remaining this season, the Knicks have a big opportunity to work on developing their young core ahead of next season and they need to take advantage of it.