Immanuel Quickley DOMINATES with 38 Pts, DEFENSE & FUN! NY 131 Boston 129 in 2 OT’s

Al Horford missed a corner 3 at the buzzer in the 2nd Overtime to give the Knicks a GRUELING 131-129 win — their 9th in a row — this time over Boston in Boston — on a nationally televised Sunday night game (ESPN).

NY was led all evening by a SPECTACULAR performance by Immanuel Quickley, who stepped into the starter’s role with Jalen Brunson out with an ankle injury — and dominated on both ends of the court.

Quickley had 38 points on 15-28 shooting (5-12 from 3), 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks. He defended great as usual, picked Boston’s pockets, hit 3’s, penetrated the lane for floaters or passes, and led NY back from a 14-point deficit in the 3rd quarter when Boston looked like they were taking control. Quickley was everywhere doing everything and having FUN doing it — skipping on the court after drives. He played 55 minutes of the 58-minute game.

“It was a huge performance by him,” said Knick coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “I was going to give him 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.”

When asked post-game about Quickley’s skipping and celebrating on the court after some of his key scores, Thibodeau answered, “Well, Quickley’s my guy so (laughs). Look, you celebrate your team; you celebrate winning. Those are the things that you celebrate. 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. Winning is way more fun than fun is fun, so .. make sure we’re taking care of business.”

Julius Randle (31 points) and RJ Barrett (29 points, 11 rebounds) also had strong games as the Knicks willed their way to a win as a team.

NY improves to 39-27, in 5th place in the East, a game behind Cleveland. Boston falls to 45-20, in 2nd place in the East.

1. Barrett Started the Knick Assault

It didn’t look good at the gate for NY with Brunson out, but RJ Barrett came out smoking — taking the ball to the rim and hitting his 3 — and NY took a slim lead throughout the 1st quarter, although Boston finished the quarter strong to take a 3-pt lead.

NY took back a 54-50 lead in the 2nd quarter, but Boston finished the quarter strong again with an 11-0 run to take a 61-54 halftime lead.

2. Smart Flopping

Marcus Smart — the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year last year — seemed intent on giving Boston the high-level of energy they needed to take this game. He took on Julius Randle in the paint, trying to deny Randle’s dribble and flopped to draw fouls. He drew quite a few on the Knick team, which had Knick twitter howling — but the refs gave him the calls.

This was a different brand of defense than the Knicks have been used to — coach Tom Thibodeau teaches the Knicks to have hands up high at all times to defend, and the only player on the Knicks that one could accuse of flopping is Jalen Brunson, who draws charges in a more conventional manner.

3. Randle Kept His Composure, Baited by Smart

With 8:56 left in the 3rd, Smart got into Randle with intensity at the top of the left key — Smart was ALL OVER HIM — Randle turned and was called for an offensive foul. Randle was Hot, and complained to the refs, demonstrating the play and asking what he was supposed to do — but (softly) touched the ref to physically show him how Smart was holding — and was called for a tech.

Randle sat down and calmed himself down. While Knick Twitter was going ballistic.

Randle would go on to play great ball the rest of the way — hitting key buckets in the 4th and both overtimes in route to his 31 points on 11-22 shooting (5-13 from 3 — and 4-4 in free throws including huge ones in OT) with 9 rebounds and 4 assists.

4. Quickley to the Rescue

Boston upped the lead to 14 points with 6 minutes left in the 3rd and it started to look like the Celtics were going to pull away. But then Immanuel Quickley revved up — hitting a 3 to slice the lead to 11.

Quickley blocked a Jaylen Brown shot, and drove the length of the floor for a score, then stole the ball off Marcus Smart and hit RJ Barrett for a drive and NY was within 5 just like that.

Quickley finished the 3rd with a flurry — a 26-foot step-back 3, and a drive-and-one to pull NY to within 2. Julius Randle finished with a contested 3-ball from the right corner and NY had an 88-87 lead entering the 4th.

In the 4th it was more Quickley at the heart of the Knicks team charge — he hit a 3 early in the quarter to put NY up by 6, then fed Barrett for a 3 and 9-pt Knick lead. Quickley fed Obi Toppin for a drive and 11-pt Knick lead.

“Immanuel Quickley was huge whether breaking you off the bounce, stretching the floor, keeping defenders on his hip and hitting his floater, creating for others along with impacting the game on the other end by getting into and after you,” said NBA analyst Ross Krienes on Twitter. “Also, outworks you and stuffs a stat sheet.”

But Boston pulled back in it — and Jaylen Brown‘s and-one drive near the end of regulation tied the game and sent it into OT.

5. The Grueling OT’s

If each close Knick win makes fans feel like they’ve run 5 miles, this one felt like 10. Or as Robert Brown put it, “I was 64 when game started I’m now 68.”

The 1st OT

The Knicks jumped on top in the first OT, but Al Horford kept hitting 3’s to pull Boston back or give them the lead. A Horford 3 erased a Knick lead and gave Boston a 121-119 lead late in the 1st OT — but Immanuel Quickley saved the day again with a drive and floater for tie game with 13 seconds left.

Boston called timeout but their final play was a drive by Jayson Tatum that he didn’t come close on — laying up a brick at the buzzer.

The 2nd OT

Quickley started off the 2nd OT with a 3, and then hit a drive for a 5-pt Knick lead.

“When I laid it up, it was still rolling around, so I kind of skipped it, willed it in,” Quickley explained of the last basket. “I just kept skipping down the floor. I was having fun, though.”

The Knicks were never headed after that — Mitchell Robinson came up with HUGE offensive rebounds, made a free throw, and Josh Hart was fouled and made 2 free throws after Grant Williams fouled him off the ball.

Jayson Tatum made consecutive drives to pull Boston within 2 — but Horford’s 3 at the buzzer missed for the old ballgame.


Knicks fans were wowed but Knick players nonchalant when Mitchell Robinson made a dribble-drive-slam in the 1st half. The youtube videos are true — he does have a handle!

The Boxscore



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