The NBA has a new streaking king, and it’s based in NYC.
Cue the Knicks, who now have won nine consecutive games after defeating the second-best team in the East, the Boston Celtics, 131-129 in double overtime on the road.
Sunday wasn’t a day off for the New Yorkers visiting the other Garden, with as many as five Knickerbockers reaching 50 minutes of playing time through their matchup with the Beantowners.
The leader on that front? Immanuel Quickley, thrust into the starting lineup by Tom Thibodeau after Jalen Brunson was ruled out of yesterday’s game with foot soreness.
“I don’t think [Brunson’s injury] is anything serious,” Thibodeau said. “He just woke up with soreness, and we want to make sure he’s good.”
Did I mention IQ also led the Knicks in points scored with 38? Ah, now I have... Quickley hoisted a game-high 28 FGA, found the net with 15 of those attempts, went 3-4 from the charity stripe, and also contributed eight boards, seven dimes, four thefts, and two blocks against just one turnover and one personal foul. Sheeeeeeesh...
“I was going to give [Quickley] rest at the start of the fourth, but then he knocked down a couple of shots and I thought the game was in the balance right there.”
Thank God, Thibs kept this man on the floor all game long. No, seriously. Quickley did not rest for a single minute coming off the break. He played 34 minutes straight.
“Quickley’s my guy,” Thibs said in his post-game presser.
No need to mention this was a freaking career-night outing by the young guard. “It was a huge performance by him,” Thibodeau acknowledged.
“I’m exhausted,” Quickley conceded. “That was all adrenaline.”
IQ wrapped up the Knicks’ victory on a perfect “Sunday, in TD Garden...it doesn’t get better than that.” The guard also said that being, “...on national TV in the Garden—other than Madison—is probably my favorite place to play, so I had a lot of fun.”
Immanuel Quickley's Boston Marathon:— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) March 6, 2023
54 minutes career high
38 points career high
The W pic.twitter.com/yGsScXmy1T
In Brunson’s absence, Julius Randle was the face of the NYK scoring 31 and grabbing nine boards to go with nine rebounds. RJ Barrett cooked himself 29 points on a double-double night in which he also grabbed 11 rebounds.
Two things happened on Sunday that have gotten printed steadily in New York Knicks’ stat sheets for a while now: Josh Hart won another game and remains undefeated while donning Knickerbocker threads, and Mitchell Robinson got another dub-dub with 13 pops and 14 boards in 44 minutes of play. Not bad, I’d say!
This game had it all. New York built a 21-2 run. The Celtics answered with a 13-2 of their own. In the third, Randle shouldered a ref trying to argue a foul call and got a tech. A Dominican missed the last shot of the game with 0.2 seconds left.
At the end of the day, New York earned the W and defeated Boston 3-1 in their particular regular-season series by beating them three consecutive times after dropping their first meeting, all the way back in early November.
“You celebrate the team and you celebrate winning,” Thibodeau said. “I want our team to have fun, I want them to have joy, but I don’t want it to get lost and I don’t want it to get twisted.”
If you peep at the standings, you’ll find the Knicks (39-27) still sitting fifth in the East. The difference, though, is that your mob is now just one game behind no. 4 Cleveland (40-26) and already up two on the sinking Nets (36-28) and 4.5 games above Miami (34-31) in seventh place.
Oh, just in case, the Knicks are now tied with Boston for the most wins on the road this season with 20 each.
“There were plenty of ups and downs, but we were able to close it out in the end,” Barrett said after the game. “I think that’s kind of who we are, just that spirit, that fighting spirit. Everybody that comes into the game has that.”
“That’s what we preach,” claimed RJ.
After getting ejected the last time he met the Knicks, Jayson Tatum dropped a useless 40 points on New York. Jaylen Brown had 29, Al Horford scored 20, but the second unit of the Celtics was limited to just 15 points between three players combining for a putrid negative-29 plus/minus. Robert Williams and Malcolm Brogdon missed the game.
The Knicks reserves (Obi Toppin, Isaiah Hartenstein, Miles McBride, and Josh Hart) logged a total of 69 minutes in which they kept New York easily above water with a +17 plus/minus.
“I think the biggest thing is we’re just having fun playing,” Randle said. “Everybody is just enjoying being out there and competing at a really high level. We’re getting enjoyment out of doing the right things, building the right habits every game, and getting better as a team. So I think that’s what’s keeping this thing fresh and the energy good,” he finished.
The Knicks have completed the toughest part of the post-trade-deadline stretch. Their remaining SOS (16 games remaining) is the 23rd-toughest, which is to say the eighth-softest. Only the Cleveland Cavaliers have an easier slate of games also with 16 left. Both teams will meet once on the last day of March.
The final push starts tomorrow with New York getting back to MSG before going on a four-game West Coast trip. Charlotte will play guest. Tip-off at 7:30 EST. Don’t miss it.