The New York Knicks (43-33) stopped their three-game losing streak at home with a 137-115 win over the Houston Rockets (18-58).
Immanuel Quickley started in place of an injured Jalen Brunson and wowed with a career-high 40-point game in a resounding win over the owly Rockets.
The Knicks needed a solid win to get back on track after dropping their last three contests and making what looked like an easy journey into the playoffs into a bit of a slog. But Houston entered this evening one of the worst teams by record in the NBA and acted as a great “get right” contest for New York, even without Brunson, who sat out with a sprained hand.
The first began with some solid offense from New York, with Quickley playing particularly poised as he started for Brunson. Houston was staying with it, though, and was able to get a few good looks off screens. It was a very fast-paced period as both the Rockets and Knicks were running up and down the floor, but neither team could establish much dominance with their scoring. But, after the Knicks’ first timeout of the game, Quickley came out swinging on both ends of the floor. He was standing his ground on defense despite Houston having an advantage on size on him, and he hit two threes to catapult the Knicks. He stayed hot for several minutes after and was finally breaking down Houston’s defense. Despite this, though, Houston was answering right back, making for quite the offensive explosion for both teams as the period ended with New York up by three.
Great aggression from Randle that leads to an IQ 3!
Randle and IQ have the majority of the NYK’s points early👀 pic.twitter.com/akrGvPzdP1
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) March 27, 2023
Some sort of defense had to be played in this game eventually, and it seemed like the Knicks were the first to pull that trigger thanks to the spryness of Deuce McBride, Josh Hart, and Isaiah Hartenstein. They forced a block and turnover very early on in the second while looking to post up and draw contact from the Rockets on the other end of the floor. RJ Barrett was the biggest catalyst of this paint offense as he exploited several matchups at the rim. After a good defensive stand from New York, though, Houston slowly crept back with some porous defense at the perimeter. They tied things up with about five minutes left in the quarter, which forced head coach Tom Thibodeau to start trickling some starters back onto the floor. This helped to pressure the Rockets on defense as it was a tough assignment to contain both Julius Randle and Quickley, but they were unable to really separate themselves as they were not boxing out and were not getting back on defense in transition. New York did end the first half on a good note and was up five through two quarters.
Barrett getting ANYTHING he wants on the interior tonight‼️ pic.twitter.com/i8a37PhmPR
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) March 28, 2023
The Knicks opened up the third with some very poor rotations in the paint, allowing the Rockets to get back to within three very quickly. But, New York caught some momentum with some eye-popping blocks by Mitchell Robinson. Quickley also continued to shoot with confidence, efficiently slicing and dicing Houston’s defense. The Knicks had a 12-point lead with about eight minutes to go in the period, finally looking in control and on a run for the first time all game. Houston was sticking around, but New York always had a response, whether it was the red-hot Quickley or Robinson continuing a great defensive stand in the quarter. Kevin Porter Jr. did start to play a bit of back and forth with him, but it was for naught as Quickley was able to respond with ease. Porter Jr. did, in fact, continue to heat up, but New York was still up 12 leading into the fourth quarter.
MITCHELL ROBINSON WHAT A REJECTION🚫 pic.twitter.com/ANmWqr9O1W
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) March 28, 2023
New York had a chance to lock up a needed win against a feisty Houston team in the fourth, and things were certainly looking that way to open the fourth. They were continuing to attack the Rockets in the paint while starting to play better defense around the three-point line. After an Obi Toppin three with just under 10 minutes left, the Knicks were back up by 20. They continued to pile it on H-Town, making it next to impossible for them to climb back into the game and make things competitive. Quentin Grimes started to hit his threes late in the game and in this quarter, too, further burying the Rockets. As time wound down, Quickley scored his career-high 39th point and finished up with 40 points total. Thibodeau emptied his bench with just under four minutes to go in the game, and New York ended their losing skid with a feel-good victory over Houston.
Quickley was the game’s leading scorer with 40 points and coupled that with nine assists, two rebounds, a steal, and a block. Randle finished up with 26 points, four rebounds, three assists, and a steal while Barrett had 19 points, five assists, three rebounds, and a steal.
New York will be going up against the Miami Heat next in a must-win game on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
»Read: It’s Time for Tom Thibodeau to Add Miles McBride Back to the Rotation
»Read: Lessons from the Knicks’ West Coast Trip