One of the best teams in the NBA came away from its first game against Immanuel Quickley highly impressed and complimentary of the Knicks’ rookie point guard.
Quickley netted 25 more points in 27 minutes off the bench Sunday, including 11 in the fourth quarter to help bring the Knicks within two points before eventually falling short, 129-115, at the Garden.
Afterward, Clippers coach Ty Lue said Quickley “showed today he’s a special talent,” and All-Star guard Paul George said the 25th-overall pick out of Kentucky is “fearless” with a “crazy” ability to score on floaters in the paint.
“It’s crazy honestly. Another one of the best players in our game, so for him to say that about me it’s a humbling experience. I appreciate it,” Quickley said. “But I just want to continue to try to keep getting better, try to help this team get more wins. Appreciate that and best of luck to him.”
Lue also revealed that he noticed Quickley watching closely All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard during pregame warm-ups.
“I’m intrigued on just watching the best players and what they do, their habits,” Quickley said. “I ask a lot of questions. I’m just a really curious person. So just watching what he does, wasn’t going to really bother him or nothing, ask him questions. But just seeing how he carries himself, what type of pro he is and just really that. I was just intrigued at seeing the best players at our game and what they do.”
The game also was a chance for Quickley to face and have personal contact on the court with three-time Sixth Man award winner Lou Williams, who the rookie has said he partly has patterned his game after in recent years.
“I just told him he was one of my favorite players,” Quickley said. “I’ve watched a lot of highlights of him. … Just being a rookie, being able to talk to somebody like that is really cool.”
Tom Thibodeau supports point guard Dennis Smith Jr. in his request to get some playing time in the G-League.
“I think the G-League is a very valuable tool,” Thibodeau said. “I think you see it being used more and more by virtually every team in the league. It’s an opportunity, you can get obviously a lot out of practice, but I think playing time is important, also. So when we have those opportunities, we do want to utilize it. I think it will be great for him.
“His attitude has been very positive. I’m glad he’s approached it that way. I know he’s looking forward to it. I think it’s good for him and it’s good for us.”
Kevin Knox did not play for the first time this season after he logged a season-low eight minutes in each of the previous two games, without scoring in either.
Nerlens Noel was out with a groin injury, so veteran big-man Taj Gibson played his first extended minutes since signing Jan. 7. He didn’t score but grabbed five rebounds in 18 minutes.