Last night, Madison Square Garden was transformed into Temple Immanuel.
Immanuel Quickley scored 8 of his 16 points to key a fourth quarter surge as the Knicks rallied to beat the Indiana Pacers, 92-84 at Madison Square Garden last night.
Quickley was 5 for 9 and 4 for 4 from beyond the arc. After a slow start to his season, the second year guard has lifted his game, particularly his three point shooting. In his last six games, Quickley is 15 for 28 from three point range.
The win snapped a two game losing streak and a four game skid at home. It also avenged the Knicks 111-98 loss in Indianapolis nearly two weeks ago.
“Indiana’s been playing great basketball,” coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game. “They’re a tough team to match up with. They play hard, they’re tough, play smart so it’s a good win for us.”
Julius Randle had 11 points and 11 rebounds but he only attempted one shot in the fourth quarter. Derrick Rose had another solid game with 14 points off the bench, including some big buckets in the fourth quarter. The Knicks’ bench outscored the Pacers second unit, 44-13.
The Knicks continued their trend of lethargic third quarters and appeared to be headed for a fourth consecutive home loss, but Quickley provided a much needed spark and his energy was contagious.
The Knicks trailed by 12 in the third quarter but they stepped up their game and finally played the type of defense that defined last season as they held the Pacers to 10 points on 2 of 21 shooting in the fourth quarter. Indiana did not have a field goal in the final seven minutes. “Ten points in the fourth, that’s Knicks basketball,” Randle said.
The starters have rightfully taking some heat for their play recently while the bench has bailed them out.
Kemba Walker tried to change that narrative as he came out firing and hit his first four shots to total 8 points, but the Knicks didn’t get much else in the first quarter. The Knicks shot 35% from the field and missed their first nine three point attempts as they trailed the Pacers after one, 20-16.
The Knicks trailed by one at halftime but the Pacers opened up a 68-56 lead in the third quarter. R.J. Barrett, who continued his shooting slump for two and a half quarters, finally snapped a 0 for 6 start with consecutive three pointers to cut the Pacers lead to 70-62.
“Those threes were great rhythm threes,” Thibodeau said. Defense collapsed, he’s coming inside-out, you’re stepping into your shot, beautiful plays and that’s what got him going.”
Indiana still led by eight points late in the third quarter, but Alec Burks hit a huge three pointer in the final minute to cut the deficit to five points, as the Knicks entered the fourth quarter trailing, 74-69.
Quickley’s play ignited the Garden crowd and then, with a little over five minutes left, the second year guard buried a three to give the Knicks the lead for good, 83-82.
Rose made a short jumper and found Barrett for an easy dunk that capped off an 8-0 run and sent the crowd into a frenzy. Barrett’s slam gave the Knicks an 87-82 lead with a little over three minutes left.
Indiana couldn’t buy a bucket down the stretch against a Knicks lineup that featured Barrett, Randle, Taj Gibson, Rose and Quickley. Starting guards Walker, who finished with 16 points, and Evan Fournier (7 points) saw no minutes in the final stanza.
“Just the way the game unfolds. They had good rhythm going, they played well, they got the lead,” Thibodeau said.
Gibson, the back up center, played 29 minutes after Mitchell Robinson played only 16 minutes and left the game with another ankle injury.
Thibodeau was pleased with the ball movement that produced 22 assists on 37 field goals. I thought offensively there was great movement and there was great pace. We missed some open shots but they were the right plays and if we play like that, we’re gonna have a good chance to win,” he said.
The Knicks (8-6) improved to 3-4 at home. Rose knows how important it is to protect home court. “We want to be able to play with a certain amount of urgency when we play here, a certain amount of intensity and we was able to achieve that,” the veteran guard said.