After three horrible quarters, the Knicks children’s corps warmed up in the fourth quarter. They did everything except make the snow disappear.
Trailing 18 points in the third quarter and 17 points in the beginning of the fourth quarter, the young guns of the Knicks, led by rookie combo guard Immanuel Quickley and a sudden resurgent Kevin Knox, made a comeback and a gripping 100-93 victory over the Cavaliers in the without fan preseason home opener.
After looking lethargic at first, Knox scored in a sensational fourth quarter, hitting three three-pointers and finishing with 16 points.
Quickley, the 25th pick in the draft, sparked the second half in his home debut and turned on the Knicks attack with speed. Quickley did not shoot for a high percentage (3 of 11) but finished with nine electrical points and seven assists.
The Knicks scored just 13 points in the third quarter before waking up with those young legs.
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has said he wants to take advantage of the ‘athleticism’ of their youth.
The quintet of Knox, Quickley, Mitchell Robinson, Obi Toppin and RJ Barrett lit up the night in the fourth quarter as the Knicks won the 34-13 period.
The Garden pumped a wave of fake noise into the audience, most noticeable in the fourth quarter when the Knicks made that run.
Barrett was a roaring beast in his third solid outing in a row. Robinson scored 12 points and added 10 rebounds before being clocked in the nose in the last minute.
Toppin, after a quiet start, added eight points and a mean last-minute dunk. In a rookie scene that the future could beget, Quickley drew a lob for Toppin, who slammed him home during the peak in the fourth quarter.
Previously, the Cavaliers were killing the Knicks from deep. The Knicks started the game 3 of 25 from the 3-point line while the Cavaliers built an 18-point lead in the third period.
Based on their three-point shooting, the Cavaliers took a 57-53 lead at half-time. The Cavaliers scored 8 out of 15 3s – the Knicks looked a lot like David Fizdale’s club in defense. The Knicks only fired 3 of 13 from the depths, their 3-point woes continued.
The Knicks rallied from trailing 45-34 in the second quarter, with Julius Randle and Barrett sparking. Randle’s best game came on a steel and fast-break dunk during their late second quarter run. Randle scored 13 points in the first half.
Barrett drove again with confidence and scored 10 points in the first half. It was a mediocre first half for backup point guard Dennis Smith Jr. In the closing seconds of the first quarter, as he dribbled past the clock, he was stripped naked and Andre Drummond’s quick break-dunk at the buzzer put Cleveland at 25-24.
Robinson, who started in the center for an injured Nerlens Noel, got two errors in the first three minutes and came out.
He was tough on stage, but sometimes out of position. At one game, he never came out to defend Dean Wade, who pushed a wide-open 3 to raise the Cavaliers by double digits. Inside, Drummond had his way with Robinson, scoring 16 points in the first half.
While Smith didn’t look too sharp, rookie guard Quickley showed electricity, scored on a pair of riding floaters, and nailed a 3 pointer – his specialty. Quickley, who played in Kentucky, scored five runs in eight first half minutes.
In his Garden debut, Toppin appeared to be bumpy after stepping on the foot of a Cavaliers player shortly after checking in.
The Cavaliers passed Toppin at number 5 to take on defensive wing Isaac Okoro, who surprised with his attacking panache. Toppin would go to Cleveland in almost all trials.
“It went all the way to the draft,” said Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff before the game. “It was back and forth. It was a debate. We decided what need he fulfilled on the defensive side of the floor.”
Thibodeau made his home coaching debut with Knicks after six years as an assistant, mainly under Jeff Van Gundy.
“It’s a shame the fans can’t be here,” said Thibodeau before the game. “But there is no better place for big games in this building and the fans’ knowledge when you play basketball well is recognized. very unique place. It’s the best place in the league to play. Players get really excited about playing here. I’m excited to be a part of it. “