The Knicks put the cherry on top of an extraordinarily tough week by beating the last two NBA Finals participants—the Nuggets last Thursday and the Heat on Saturday—although not everything was good news for New York.
With fewer than five minutes left to play in yesterday’s games and Madison Square Garden packed full of immaculate vibes, Julius Randle met Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez on his way to the rim and hit the floor landing on his shoulder, dislocating it and facing ample time off the field while rehabbing the bad-timed injury.
Here is everything we heard from head coach Tom Thibodeau about yesterday’s developments, as well as from other players and personalities across the NBA landscape.
On Julius Randle’s injury...
”You knew for him to do that [leaving the game; it might be serious]. He’s a guy who plays through things and that’s what you love about him. He’s a warrior. He has a very high pain tolerance.”
”You hope for the best. That’s where we’re at right now.”
On the Dirty Miami Heat perception...
”The thing is, both teams are hard-playing. So there’s gonna be a lot of tough plays like that. You don’t wanna see it. I don’t wanna see anyone get hurt on our team or their team. But that’s part of the game. The only way you can guarantee someone not getting hurt is you never play.”
On Isaiah Hartenstein returning to the starting lineup after missing the prior two games...
”Where you are in the season, virtually every player is dealing with something right now. But we’re not going to put him in harm’s way. So as long as he’s good, he’ll play.”
On Hartenstein playing on a pitch count and limited minutes...
”I thought [Hartenstein] moved OK, but I liked the way Precious was playing. So we have good rhythm with that group and just stayed with it.”
On the steadily improving Precious Achiuwa...
”I think each experience teaches you something. He probably benefited from coming in with Miami and then going to Toronto. Those are two really good experiences for him.”
”The more you go through things, the more you learn. I think he’s adapted quickly and we’re still getting to know him. I thought the last couple games he played really hard and really well. Just fit in and bring energy to the game.”
”It’s pretty spectacular to see the shotmaking that’s going on. And so I think it makes it exciting, but on the other side of that is all the rule changes have favored the offense. In the ’90s, that was probably more so the other way, and then they fixed that. So I like to see a well-balanced game where there’s great defense, great offense. … I think that’s what makes the playoffs exciting because it seems to be there’s more defense being played.”
On Mitchell Robinson’s rehab process...
”He’s lifting. He looks like—I don’t know, bodybuilding.”
”Whatever it is that he can do, and it’s a step-by-step progression. So he’ll be in the pool, he’ll be on the bike, and then eventually get to be where he can shoot. He’s shooting a little bit, shooting out of the chair at this point. Just following protocols and getting treatments.”
”He’s been great. He’s in great spirits. So we’re encouraged. Everything’s positive so far. Just let him go through it, and then when he’s ready, he’s ready.”
On the scoring explosion taking place around the NBA this season with many players bagging 60+ points effortlessly...
“It’s pretty spectacular to see the shotmaking that’s going on. I think it makes it exciting, but on the other side of that is all the rule changes have favored the offense.”
“In the ’90s, that was probably more so the other way, and then they fixed that. I like to see a well-balanced game where there’s great defense, great offense—I think that’s what makes the playoffs exciting because it seems to be there’s more defense being played.”
On Julius Randle’s injury
“It was an, ‘Oh s—’ reaction. We don’t want to see that from anybody, especially him with how he’s been playing. He means a lot to us. So for him to go back there, obviously it’s not ideal.”
“We got to stick together. We can’t just have one person pick up the slack or anything.”
“Hopefully, he’s going to be all right. Still waiting to hear going forward.”
On beating the Miami Heat at MSG on Saturday...
“We were happy we won. [We] stuck together when they went on their run. They’re capable of doing that at any point in the game. And we just knew we had to stick together.”
On his injury and returning to the floor after missing two games albeit on a 16-minute restriction...
“It feels good, so that’s a great little test.”
“I’m past it. It’s like normal tendinitis. It’s nothing like, ‘Oh, it’s the end of the world.’ You just manage it so it’s nothing crazy.”
On Randle’s injury amid the Knicks situation and current winning run...
“Right now, we don’t know what the situation [with Randle] is. But we won the game so that’s the most important part.”
“He’s a big part of our team, but at the end of the day, we don’t really know what’s happening. If he’s out, then guys got to step up.”
“We got confidence in everybody. I think the luxury we have is that we even got starters on the bench. If someone goes out, we have the luxury [that] when a guy goes down, we have guys that can step up. [Randle is] a big part of what we do, but I have a lot of confidence in our guys.”
On fellow big man Precious Achiuwa growing more confident and improving every day...
“Precious did a great job today. The way he defended and brought energy, that was great and that’s what we needed.”
Stephen A. Smith (TV personality)
On voting for shooting guard Donovan Mitchell ahead of point guard Jalen Brunson to start the All-Star game...
“When I look at Donovan Mitchell... 28 (points) a game? Playing in Cleveland? I’m supposed to ignore that? I put [Brunson] behind Haliburton and Mitchell because Mitchell’s a two-guard, Haliburton’s a point guard, Brunson’s a point guard.”
”Jalen Brunson is a star and deserves all the credit in the world, but I’m sorry. There’s a reason the fans, the media, and the players all voted for Haliburton over Brunson.”
Kendrick Perkins (former NBA player)
On Stephen A. Smith disrespecting Jalen Brunson and not promoting his talents along with the Knicks organization...
”You stay right there and you fix your body language. You know what the problem is? The problem is you are a prime example, along with the organization, of not promoting this man of what he is.”
“When you talk about putting up the numbers with the best of them, when you talk about his production, I should go to New York and land and walk through LaGuardia or any airport and see posters of Jalen Brunson.”