The New York Knicks finally won a close game, overcoming the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday evening 133-129. Despite the Grizzlies’ entire starting unit posting double-digit points, the Knicks offense finally turned on the afterburners, with Immanuel Quickley offering 20 points over 31 minutes. Quickley shot 7-of-12 from the field and 4-of-6 from downtown, helping secure the win with a few clutch shots toward the end. But donâ€™t discount the influence of second-year player RJ Barrett and his 20 points, displaying another strong shooting performance in what seems to be one of the most amazing developmental leaps Iâ€™ve seen in quite a while.
Performances like this draw positive reviews from fans and coaches, as Tom Thibodeau was ecstatic about how Quickley performed in the win, stating his desire to let him keep shooting and building confidence.
â€œI never mind him taking shots,â€ coach Tom Thibodeau said. â€œThatâ€™s his strength. I know over the course of the season, if he is taking those shots, he is going to make most of them.â€
Quickley speaks as if he is a veteran, with an understanding of the game and how opponents change their style to give themselves a competitive advantage. Quickley noticed what they were trying to do on offense, so he created a perfect blend of floaters and three-point shots to help put Memphis to bed.
â€œThe second time that we play a team I feel like they definitely make adjustments, especially on my floater and different things like that â€” pick and roll play,â€ Quickley said before the game. â€œSo Iâ€™m just trying to get better each and every day not only on the floor but with film, trying to adjust my game to become a smarter student of the game.â€
Even veteran All-Star Julius Randle raved about Quickley after the win, thanking him and RJ Barrett for picking up the slack as he struggled for most of the game. Veteran point guard Derrick Rose also had a solid outing, picking up 19 points over 26 minutes.
â€œMost of the game Iâ€™m struggling. RJ is struggling,â€ Randle said. â€œFor the first half, Derrick kept us in the game with his scoring and setting the pace. Down the stretch, RJ made huge plays, Quick made huge plays, Alec made huge plays.â€
Randle played a big part in his own way, picking up a triple-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. Spreading the ball around the floor and creating open shots is what he does best, and his influence undoubtedly offered open looks for Quickley and Barrett down the stretch.
There were concerns that Quickley was hitting the rookie wall, as he’s been struggling the past few weeks, and his offensive influence had taken a bit of a nosedive. However, this breakout performance was not only necessary but well-timed as the Knicks had fallen in several games by close marginâ€™s. Hopefully, this victory will push them over the edge and give them a bit of confidence moving forward.
â€œFor the rookie wall, I donâ€™t really feel it,â€ Quickley said. â€œIâ€™m just going to continue to do whateverâ€™s got me here. Thereâ€™s going to be ups and downs throughout a season, ups and downs throughout a game. But you just want to continue to do whatâ€™s got you to the place youâ€™ve been. Iâ€™ve got a lot of confidence in myself.â€