The New York Knicks needed a win in the worst way as they stepped onto the court Monday evening against the lowly Houston Rockets. They had lost three straight, which had threatened their hold on the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference standings. And don’t let the final score fool you, friends — for the first three quarters of this game, the Rockets were not very obliging. But the New York bench broke Houston’s spirit early in the fourth quarter, and the Knicks romped the rest of the way en route to a 137-115 victory.
- Immanuel Jaylen Quickley. As I said earlier, the Rockets played the Knicks fairly tough through three quarters. But as Clyde said during the broadcast, they had no answer for the shenanigans (such a great word) of IQ, who had 37 points through three. He absolutely abused his Houston counterpart, Kevin Porter, Jr., who kept jawing at IQ during the third quarter. Bad move. Quickley would finish with a career-high 40 points on 14-18 shooting. He also dropped nine dimes. He was in total control.
There are some dumbass takes spreading across social media this morning. Apparently, IQ stepping up yet again in place of the injured Jalen Brunson actually hurts his case for Sixth Man of the Year.
People need to cut this shit out. Quickley has played the vast majority of his games off the bench this season. But when New York’s star point guard has been out, Quickley has taken up the mantle and kicked ass. He’s far more than just some microwave bench scorer; he’s the most complete bench player in the NBA this season. Give him his award, dammit!
- Julius Randle play a fairly typical Randle game, pacing the Knicks early with 15 first-quarter points. He had his ups and downs in terms of defensive effort, but it’s hard to argue with a fairly efficient 26 points in three quarters (he didn’t play the fourth). Also, hopefully this puts to bed any talk of beef between him and Quickley. They were great together.
- RJ Barrett did what needed to be done. He was mostly content to let Quickley cook in the third quarter, then spearheaded the bench effort to put the game away early in the fourth. And he had five assists! That’s more like it!
- Quentin Grimes struggled in the first half, missing all of his shots and whiffing a few times trying to contain Houston’s best scorer, Jalen Green. But he absolutely locked Green down in the third quarter, and heated up offensively to the tune of 14 points. He’s now back up to 37% from three this season, which is good to see.
- Isaiah Hartenstein has been so damn fun to watch recently. His line really speaks to his impact on this game: eight points, six rebounds, six assists, team-high plus-32.
- Obi Toppin has really been struggling of late, but he was great in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 points to help the Knicks pull away. Hopefully he rediscovered his offense moving forward. Also, he brought the postgame “Bestfriend” energy.
Obi Toppin to Immanuel Quickley on IG: pic.twitter.com/B3RJQYBAJI— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) March 28, 2023
The good vibes are back, but the Heat are lying in wait for a massive game on Wednesday. Let’s get more Ws!