Quickley catches fire as Knicks rout Cavaliers

New York Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier took his fabulous 1973 fur coat to The Garden with the weather outside descending to 20 that feels like seven degrees. But rookie Immanuel Quickley was quick to heat up the venue with his red-hot shooting as the Knicks overcame a slow start to pounce the Cleveland Cavaliers, 101-82, that ended their three-game slide.

Quickley fired 25 points off the bench and hit five triples, including the Knicks’ first four-point play of the season. His backcourt partner Austin Rivers added 13 as the “Quivers” duo outscored the entire Cavaliers’ bench 38-29.

Their inspired play led the Knicks’ comeback from an early 10-point deficit.

The Knicks offered a moment of silence for fan-favorite Harthorne Wingo, who died last January 20. Wingo, a Frazier teammate in the 1973 championship team, was a Rucker Park legend before joining the Knicks. Wingo won the hearts of the fans with his infectious personality. The Beastie Boys even referenced Wingo’s name in their song “Lay It On Me.”

The somber atmosphere continued in the opening minutes as the Knicks’ starters fell behind by as many as 10.

The Cavaliers still had a 13-5 lead when Quickley and Rivers provided a jolt of energy off the bench. They combined for 12 of the Knicks’ next 14 points. New York took the upper hand, 19-17, at the end of the opening quarter.

The Cavaliers retaliated with a 7-0 spurt to start the second quarter before RJ Barrett took over.

Barrett scored 11 of his 16 first-half points as the Knicks surged ahead for good.

Behind Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, the Cavaliers last threatened when they came within four, 56-52, halfway through the third quarter.

That’s when Quickley returned to the game with fire in his eyes. He scored 20 second-half points and led the breakaway.

The Knicks’ defense once again held their opponent under 85, the third time it happened this season.

The Cavaliers scored below 20 points in each of the first two quarters.

Andre Drummond, who averaged 25.5 points in the team’s first two meetings this season, typified Cleveland’s struggle against the Knicks’ air-tight defense with just four points.

The Knicks forced the Cavaliers to shoot an atrocious 34.5 percent from the field, including 8-for-26 from the three-point line.

Quickley’s 25 points came with five rebounds and three assists. Barrett finished with 24 points, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals.

Julius Randle bucked a slow start and wound up with 16 points, eight boards, and six dimes. He was silent in the opening half attempting only three shots.

But it didn’t matter as the rest of the team picked up the scoring slack.

The Knicks improved to a 9-11 record, a rapid improvement as it took them 33 games to reach nine wins last season.

Quickley and the Knicks will face another tough test on Sunday. They will host the streaking Los Angeles Clippers, winners of nine of their last 10 games, including a 116-90 rout of the Orlando Magic Friday night.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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