The New York Knicks sought to snap a three-game losing streak and avenge a recent bad loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The New York Knicks returned to Madison Square Garden on Friday night and hoped to look like themselves again.
A recent west coast road trip began with promise as the team beat Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco. The joy was short-lived as the Knicks then turned in sluggish efforts in Sacramento, Portland, and Utah.
Guard Austin Rivers attributed the struggles to fatigue, but even so. The New York Knicks entered Friday’s tilt against the Cleveland Cavaliers on the back of an awful effort in Utah on Tuesday. It didn’t help that the Knicks also collapsed in their last matchup with the Cavs earlier this month.
And did a return home breathe new life into a Knicks team that needed it badly? You know what time it is, folks. The gifs have the full story.
1st quarter: Slow start, big finish
The New York Knicks closed the quarter leading 19-17, but getting there wasn’t pretty. RJ Barrett opened the scoring with a corner three-pointer…four minutes into the game. Three minutes later, Alec Burks’ fadeaway jumper finally got New York on the board again. Trailing 13-5, everything looked bleak again.
But the Knicks we’ve grown quite fond of then decided to show up for the game. The team closed out on a 14-4 run on, and all without Julius Randle taking a single shot! Instead, Immanuel Quickley and Austin Rivers combined for 12 points off the bench. Oh, and just for some extra giggles, Mitchell Robinson and Nerlens Noel each drew two fouls.
That’s right, Knicks fans. It was that type of game.
Halftime report: Barrett Barrage
Leading after the first quarter clearly gave the New York Knicks some much-needed confidence. More importantly, RJ Barrett took the lead on offense and the flow just followed.
The Knicks’ second-year wing scored 11 of his 16 points in the second quarter as New York shot 48.7% from the field in the first half. Rookie Obi Toppin added five points off the bench as well, including a circus-like layup.
Pretty ridiculous move by Obi Toppin here, who followed it up with a made 3. The kid is worth waiting for. He's going to be a problem when he figures things out. pic.twitter.com/rChQYOBkGS
— Jonathan Macri (@JCMacriNBA) January 30, 2021
On the defensive side, the Knicks tightened up faster than the West Side Highway at rush hour. New York led 47-33 at halftime, so hopefully RJ Barrett could keep up the hot hand after the break.
3rd quarter: Cleveland sprints, New York finishes
Call the Cavaliers “Meatloaf,” because Cleveland started the third quarter like a bat out of hell. A 9-3 run led to the sluggish New York Knicks calling a timeout, and it wasn’t until past the midway point of the third that the offense got clicking again.
This time, however, it was Julius Randle who finally got cooking. He scored six points in the quarter and pulled down six boards, with Immanuel Quickley’s three-pointer closing out the third quarter with a bang.
The Knicks led 72-55 after three, so now it was just a matter of closing the game.
4th quarter: Quickley closes
Anyone who booed the Knicks picking Immanuel Quickley in last year’s NBA Draft can go sit in the corner right now. The lithe rookie out of Kentucky not only got hot in the fourth quarter, but was the catalyst who helped the New York Knicks close out a 102-81 victory.
Quickley scored 15 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, including a three-pointer that wound up a four-point play. The 6’3″ steal of the draft also held his own in the paint as he grabbed five rebounds. All Cleveland could do was try and play catch up, but to no avail. Randle added six more points to give himself 16 on the night, while Barrett added 24 of his own.
All in all, the Knicks overcame ugly stretches to play elite defense, limiting Cleveland to 34.5% shooting.
Player of the Game: Immanuel Quickley
You were expecting, maybe, a Times Square Elmo?