New York Knicks rookie Immanuel Quickley played a key role in the team’s win over Atlanta.
With just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter of the New York Knicks‘ victory over Atlanta, with the score 84-71 in the Hawks’ favor, MSG announcer Mike Breen said, “Knicks looking for some spark,” as rookie Immanuel Quickley initiated the offense.
Breen’s voice betrayed a sense of urgency, and justifiably so: he has seen enough end-of-quarter collapses to understand the importance of finishing strong and entering the fourth quarter with a manageable deficit. What followed was one of the Knicks’ best possessions of the night:
It’s simply beautiful to watch: players giving up good shots for better shots. It’s a symphony of advantages created and exploited, aided by unselfishness and ultimately a three-pointer from Quickley. As Breen had hoped, the play sparked a 13-4 run including a devastatingly savvy move from Quickley that took Atlanta completely by surprise and resulted in an easy dunk:
Quickley’s two-for-one gambit also allowed for the Knicks to get an additional possession, enabling the buzzer-beating three-pointer by Kevin Knox one possession later. That flurry cut the Hawks’ lead to just four points heading into the final period where Quickley continued to shine.
We’ll get to those fourth quarter heroics in a second, but first let’s zoom out and appreciate the fact that this rookie point guard (who few believed could even play point guard) has the confidence and poise to lead this team and deliver in crunch time only a few games into his career. Not to mention, that Thibs gave him an early hook after struggling in his first four minutes of action during the second quarter.
Quickley had the mental fortitude to overcome that slow start and finish with 16 points in just 19 minutes on 4-of-7 shooting from the field including 2-of-3 from three and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. And, in the tradition of only using single game plus/minus when it suits us, the team was a game-high +17 with Quickley on the floor.
It’s utterly remarkable the intangibles that this guy brings to the table: not just his fierce competitiveness, but as the broadcast pointed out last night, the joy with which he plays.
Let’s breakdown how he sparked the Knicks comeback win over Atlanta on Monday.