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Josh Hart after beating Pacers: “I wish we didn’t have a long break”

Can you feel the excitement?

New York Knicks v Indiana Pacers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The New York Knicks (47-33) won their fifth consecutive game after defeating hosts Indiana Pacers (34-46) at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse, 138-129 on Wednesday.

New York, who entered this game knowing they wouldn’t have Julius Randle (sprained ankle) and RJ Barrett (illness), also ruled Jalen Brunson out (right-hand maintenance) before the initial tip-off.

None of that could stop this machine we call the Knicks.

Thanks to a ridiculous team effort in which as many as three different players scored 32+ points, the Knicks were able to hit the 32-point plateau in each of the four quarters while surrendering more than 31 points in only one of the four periods.

Immanuel Quickley (39), Quentin Grimes (36), and Obi Toppin (32) also became the third trio of Knickerbocker teammates since 1979 to hit 30+ points each in the same game.

Toby Knight, Earl Monroe, and Ray Williams did it on March 24, 1979, confirmed Mike Vaccaro. IQ didn’t even know what was hitting back then.

“I’m trying to think... What was going on in 1979? Was there even cable?” Quickley said.

Karl Rasmussen of Sports Illustrated added an even weirder fact to what went down in Indy, saying that the Knicks’ trio of players just became the first-ever to each score 30-plus points with at least five three-pointers each.

At the end of the day, the effort meant New York bagged another W, their 47th of the season and two short of reaching the maximum of 49 still in play for the Knicks with games against New Orleans and Indiana again next.

“That’s great stuff, I’m really happy, especially for those guys, because they work really hard,” added IQ. “Especially Obi. Good to see him get some success, especially down the stretch.”

Toppin, the main beneficiary of Randle’s injury, has started the last three games playing an ever-increasing 19, 33, and 43 minutes. He’s coming off his Magnum Opus against Indy, dumping 32 pops on the Pacers to go with six dimes, three boards, and one theft.

Other than a 42-point, 10-rebound outing against the Raps a year ago, Wednesday’s performance can arguably be considered Toppin’s best NBA game to date.

“We just did a lot of the right things, moving the ball, playing in transition, playing a lot faster, Toppin said. “We were having fun out there.”

Toppin shot 61.1% from the floor and bagged all five freebies he attempted. Another extraordinary all-around player, Quentin Grimes, hosted 23 field goals finding paydirt on 14 occasions and scoring 5-of-13 long-rangers.

This was, without a doubt, Grimes’ best-ever game in his short tenure as a member of the Association. It featured a career-high in points (36 to his prior-best 33) and made field goals (14 to 12). Coach Tom Thibodeau agreed.

“[Grimes] is shooting the ball with a lot of confidence,” he said. “He’s flying around the floor, guarding people... His confidence is growing game by game.”

According to Thibs, the Knicks are navigating a stretch of play in which they “are creating a rhythm for each other,” and the coach thinks “when you play like that, good things will come from it.”

Thibs also thought “Obi ran the floor well and got us some easy buckets,” adding that the freshest Knicks starter “is hard to match up with what he can do.” Coming out of the blue and instantly turning into a heavy-minutes guy, “[Toppin] continued to play to his strengths and his teammates’ strengths,” said Thibs.

Quickley fell one point short of matching his career-high of 40, but he had a nice all-around outing with nine assists, six rebounds, and two steals to go with his 39 bangers.

Speaking of rebounding, the Knicks beat the Pacers 52 to 37 on the boards, with Josh Hart (starting at shooting guard) grabbing 12 and Mitchell Robinson pulling down 16 himself.

“Mitch had a monster game,” Thibodeau claimed. “The rebounding with Mitchell was unbelievable.”

Hart, who finished with six points in 37 minutes and attempted just five five field goals, said that he “almost wish we didn’t have a long break,” as he considers the Knicks “are going in the right direction” getting into the postseason.

“Now, the next step is to continue to play as well as we can to take that into the playoffs,” Thibodeau thinks.

“Anytime someone’s out it’s an opportunity for someone else to step in. All these guys have had really good moments throughout the year,” Tom Thibodeau said.

The Knicks used four reserves even though they were missing three key starters. Your superheroes: Isaiah Hartenstein (18 minutes), Miles McBride (13), Evan Fournier (11), and Jericho Sims (five). The bench mob combined for 11 points, nine rebounds, six assists, a steal, and no blocks at all.

“The thing that I’m most proud of is the way that they improved throughout the year,” Thibs kept going. “To think about how we started, where we were to where we are today... it’s a tribute to them, to our players, for working together and not skipping over things. Put the work in each and every day,” the coach finished.

The Knicks will wrap up their season against Indy next Sunday, but Thibs can’t see past Friday. “We have to look to New Orleans now. We want to play our best going into the postseason.”

Next game is on Friday against the Pelicans in New Orleans. Tip-off at 8:00 EST. Don’t miss it.