Quentin Grimes questionable to play in Knicks-Chicago rematch

Quentin Grimes, New York Knicks
Dec 16, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; New York Knicks guard Quentin Grimes (6) shoots against Chicago Bulls guard Goran Dragic (7) during the second half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks starting shooting guard Quentin Grimes’ playing status for Friday’s rematch against the Chicago Bulls remains in doubt.

Grimes, who sat out Wednesday night’s 113-106 loss to Toronto Raptors that snapped the Knicks’ eight-game winning streak, is questionable to play, the team announced Thursday.

The Knicks sorely missed Grimes, especially his stout defense, as the Raptors percolated from the point of attack, with Pascal Siakam scoring a career-high 52 points and Fred Van Vleet adding 28.

Grimes was instrumental in the Knicks’ fortunes after a 10-13 start. He was a firecracker as a starter, giving the Knicks the two-way perimeter player they lacked.

On top of slowing down Zach LaVine during the Knicks’ first two meetings with the Bulls, Grimes averaged 18.0 points and 4.5 3s in their back-to-back wins. He also hit a clutch triple in one of those wins.

“If [Grimes] is healthy, yeah [he will play]. If not, then [the] next guy, be ready.”

Tom Thibodeau postgame via Knicks digital

That next guy should be Immanuel Quickley again.

Quickley shrugged off a slow start to finish with 20 points, spiked by 6 of 9 shooting from deep against Toronto. But his costly turnover, a traveling violation after RJ Barrett’s dunk that gave the Knicks a 102-101 lead, killed their momentum down the stretch.

Thibodeau chose to dwell on the brighter side.

“I thought [Quickley] gave us a really solid game, really solid. He’s been playing well, too. So, the way he’s shooting the ball, we knew that would come around for him. He’s not hesitating. He’s letting it go. He took nine threes and made six. We only ended up taking 26 [Wednesday night] and that’s probably where we missed Quentin the most. When he’s in there, we’re usually pretty high-volume [three-point shooting team].

Tom Thibodeau postgame via Knicks digital

Grimes averaged 5.8 three-point attempts during the Knicks’ winning streak, and he hit at a pretty high level (45.7 percent). But it was his defensive presence that they missed the most.

“[Grimes] brings a lot of defense. He’s been guarding the best player on the other team pretty much all season. I stepped up as best I could to try to guard Fred but [Grimes] is a big part of this team. He brings shooting, athleticism, and defense. So, anytime anybody’s out, you know you’re gonna miss something and try to make up for it as a team.”

Immanuel Quickley postgame via Knicks digital

Per NBA.com’s tracking data, Quickley only defended Van Vleet in eight partial possessions. The Raptors point guard had three points, the lone field goal he attempted, with a single turnover and no assists during that one minute and 20-second stretch that Quickley was his defender.

Van Vleet did much of his damage against Jalen Brunson (6 points on 3 of 8 field goals and six assists in 31.4 partial possessions) and RJ Barrett (7 points on 2 of 5 field goals and two assists in 7.9 partial possessions) though he didn’t shoot well from the field.

On the offensive end, Quickley did not attempt a field goal until halfway through the second quarter. He attributed his slow start offensively to playing a new role for the first time this season.

“It’s a little bit different [playing with the first unit. I try to make sure I stay aggressive every time I’m on the floor but obviously, being on the court with Julius (Randle) RJ and JB (Brunson), they have a lot of offensive skills. So, my role changed a little bit, but I still try to stay aggressive and then when I’m with the second unit, I try to be a little bit more aggressive.”

Immanuel Quickley postgame via Knicks digital

Their third meeting with the Bulls promises to be different.

Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan have picked up steam, with the Bulls 1-2 punch shooting above 50 percent in Chicago’s last two wins heading to New York.

Slowing them down will be more challenging without Grimes.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo