Knicks rookie Immanuel Quickley poured in a single-game career-high of 31 points off the bench as a late comeback fell short against the Blazers.

The New York Knicks (8-10) lost their second straight game on their West Coast road trip late on Sunday night in a bizarre back-and-forth game with the Portland Trail Blazers (9-6) with some truly remarkable performances. The Blazers were able to thwart a pesky second-half Knicks comeback after a disaster of a first half. A late Immanuel Quickley layup (much more on him throughout) cut the Knicks deficit to three, losing by a score of 116-113, covering the four-point spread in a game that many thought would be a blowout early in the first and second quarters.

The story of the first half was the Blazers’ unstoppable offense led by new father Damian Lillard. Lillard started “Dame Time” early, dominating the first quarter with a quick 15 points and four assists. He, along with Derrick Jones Jr.’s season-high of 10 points (just in the first quarter alone), led the Blazers to a 37-point opening salvo—the most the Knicks have allowed in any one quarter this season.

The second quarter continued with more of the first, with the Blazers hitting everything they threw up, shooting 58% from the field including 12 three-pointers in the first half. Portland extended their lead from 13 points after one to 20 points going into the half. The Knicks’ offense shot well from deep and scored a respectable 50 points in the first half, but they could just not stop the Blazers, who scored 70.

The start of the third quarter looked like it was going to be a long night for the Knicks as the Blazers ballooned their lead up to 25. Lillard continued his hot start, making his first eight shots from the field. This is where the Knicks made their run, though, cutting the lead in half based around strong defense and the shots that fell in the first half for the Blazers just not falling. After allowing 37 and 33 points in the first two quarters, the Knicks’ defense held the Blazers to just 19 in the third quarter.

Another impressive defensive quarter, which is becoming a trademark of this Knicks season brought it to just a 12-point deficit after three.

If things started to go the Knicks way in the third, the fourth could not have gone much better, barring a win, of course. The Knicks fought hard, but couldn’t ever get over the proverbial hump and Lillard was able to put it away with 39 points tonight. The Knicks were unable to catch a break with some weird foul calls and the Blazers shooting 21-of-23 from the charity stripe.

This was a fourth quarter where three minutes of game time taking over 26 minutes due to multiple reviews. There was a lot to talk about including weird coaching choices, but really, there is only one name worth mentioning: Immanuel Quickley. The Knicks’ 25th overall first-round pick this year went on an absolute tear, completely taking over the game in a way that would make Lillard proud.

Quickley was absolutely unconscious, scoring 21 points in the fourth, including hitting three from beyond the arc. Not only was the rookie creating his own shot and score from deep, but he showed a veteran-like presence and ability late in the game to, not only take care of the ball, but to draw fouls from out of nowhere and knock down free throws in crunch time. IQ finished with 31 points in total in just 24 minutes and certainly left his mark on an entire fanbase with an awe-inspiring fourth quarter, even if the comeback attempt came up just short.

Key Takeaways

  • Quickley and Burks were 10-for-16 from three, the rest of the Knicks were 2-of-13.

  • The Quickley to Robinson lob connection is dynamic, I think in part to Quickley’s threat to score from a floater. That is going to create a lot of fun highlights throughout the year and into the future.
  • Quickley got a new career-high tonight with 31 points. In case you were wondering, Elfrid Payton’s career-high in his seven-year career is 30.
  • While Thibs did let IQ finish when he started cooking, there are going to be some really strong and well-warranted complaints if Payton is still starting over Quickley come Tuesday night’s game against Utah.
  • In an un-Thibsian type decision, R.J. Barrett only played 23 minutes tonight and did not see the court during the fourth-quarter comeback after an underwhelming performance and just taking two shots in the first half, finishing with eight points altogether.
  • The Knicks’ zone offense is problematic, to say the least.
  • Julius Randle fouled out on a weird loose ball foul late in the fourth but did finish with an impressive stat line with 25 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.
  • In former Knick news: Enes Kanter can now apparently make passes out of the paint as well as defend more athletic players under the basket, who knew? Carmelo Anthony did not play his best game, shooting just 3-of-14 from the field, but it was an absolute pleasure to see Carmelo Knicks highlights dispersed throughout the game.

The Knicks finish their road trip in Utah on Tuesday night against one of the hottest teams in the NBA, the Jazz. This will be the last late-night game for East Coast Knicks fans with a 9 p.m. EST tip-off on Tuesday night.


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