Knicks: Allan Houston, Penny Hardaway push Quentin Grimes to play best Summer League game

Shooters will always shoot.

Quentin Grimes entered the NBA with a reputation as a 3-and-D guy after leading the Houston Cougars to the NCAA Final Four last season.

But after Grimes hit his first shot — a 3-pointer — in his NBA Summer League debut, his primary skillset seemed to have betrayed him.

After three Summer League games, he was just shooting 27 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from the 3-point zone.

It wasn’t the shooting form expected from the 25th overall pick after blowing the New York Knicks brass away with his impeccable shooting during the NBA Draft Combine.

Throughout his slump, Grimes never wavered, gleaning on two former NBA stars’ encouraging words.

“Allan Houston told me to keep shooting. Everything will gonna follow. Penny (Hardaway) was texting me: ‘everything will gonna follow. Shoot is what you do.’ That’s why I came out a little bit more aggressive today at all times,” Grimes said.

Houston, a special assistant to Knicks assistant general managers, was a 40 percent career three-point shooter. He had some of the biggest shots in Knicks’ history. On the other hand, Hardaway was a 32 percent career three-point shooter but played his best years with Orlando Magic before playing for the Knicks during the twilight of his career.

Grimes held his pre-Draft camp in Memphis training with Hardaway.

The two former Knicks players’ powerful words rejuvenated Grimes who broke out from his shooting slump Friday.

His 15-point effort nearly helped the Knicks wipe out a 21-point fourth quarter deficit. It took Cade Cunningham’s best game to preserve a Detroit Pistons victory, 93-87, Friday in Las Vegas. Cunningham, the top overall pick, scored 24 points built on seven triples.

Grimes tried to keep up, scoring eight in the final quarter to backstop Obi Toppin’s 31 points.

Grimes hit 3 of 6 from deep and went 6 for 10 overall from the field. He added seven rebounds, three assists and two shot blocks in a well-rounded performance.

”I’m just starting to get comfortable,” Grimes said. “The last few games I was not shooting well.”

Even when his shot was not falling, Grimes did not stop playing.

”I hung onto my defense. I rebounded and continued making plays,” said Grimes who averaged 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists before Friday.

Knicks Summer League coach Dice Yoshimoto kept his faith and also implored his struggling swingman to keep on shooting.

“I told Quentin to be Quentin. If he’s open, shoot it. If not, move it. Don’t overthink. Just shoot and let it fly,” Yoshimoto said. “He’s been putting up a lot of time in the gym. It showed today, and he made some shots.”

Grimes hopes to carry that momentum in Knicks’ Saturday marchup against third overall pick Evan Mobley and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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