Led by 18 points in the third quarter and 17 early in the fourth, the Knicks’ young guns, led by rookie combo guard Immanuel Quickley and a suddenly resurgent Kevin Knox, propelled a comeback and a moving 100-93 victory over the Cavaliers. in without fan home opening pre-season.
After looking sluggish at first, Knox burned down in a sensational fourth quarter to hit three 3-pointers and finish with 16 points.
Quickley, the 25th pick in the draft, was a second-half spark on his home debut and ignited the Knicks’ offense with pace. Quickley didn’t shoot for a high percentage (3 of 11) but finished with nine electric 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 when the Knicks won the period 34-13.
The garden pumped in a wave of fake crowd noise that was more noticeable in the fourth quarter when the Knicks made that run.
Barrett was a rushing beast in his third straight solid outing. Robinson scored 12 points and added 10 rebounds before being timed in the nose in the last minute.
Toppin, after a quiet start, added eight points and a vicious last minute dunk. In a rookie scene that could spawn the future, Quickley lobbed for Toppin, who slammed him at home during the fourth quarter push.
Previously, the Cavaliers killed the Knicks from deep. The Knicks started Game 3 of 25 from the 3-point line as the Cavaliers built an 18-point lead in the third period.
Thanks to their 3-point shot, the Cavaliers took a 57-53 lead at halftime. The Cavaliers had 8 of 15 3s – the Knicks looking a lot like David Fizdale’s club in defense. The Knicks only shot 3 of 13 from deep, their 3-point woes continuing.
The Knicks recovered from a 45-34 deficit in the second quarter with Julius Randle and Barrett providing sparks. Randle’s best play came on a steal and a quick dunk during their late run of the second quarter. Randle scored 13 points in the first half.
Barrett was driving confidently again and scored 10 points in the first half. It was a first half for backup goaltender Dennis Smith Jr. In the dying seconds of the first quarter as he dribbled the clock he was stripped and André Drummond’s quick dunk to the buzzer set off. Cleveland ahead 25-24.
Robinson, who started in the center for an injured Nerlens Noel, collected two fouls in the first three minutes and was out.
He was hard on the boards but also sometimes out of position. On one play, he never came out to defend Dean Wade, who punched a wide open 3 to put the Cavaliers in double digits. Inside, Drummond made his way with Robinson, scoring 16 points in the first period.
While Smith didn’t look too sharp, rookie guard Quickley showed electricity, scoring on two driving floats and nailing a 3-point – his specialty. Quickley, who played for Kentucky, had five points in eight minutes of the first half.
In his Garden debut, Toppin seemed hampered after stepping on the foot of a Cavaliers player shortly after his recording.
The Cavaliers passed Toppin at No.5 to take defensive end Isaac Okoro, who surprised with his offensive panache. Toppin had to travel to Cleveland in almost every simulation project.
“It was until draft night,” Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff said ahead of the game. “It was a back and forth. It was a debate. We decided what need he was filling on the defensive end of the pitch.
Thibodeau was making his Knicks home head coach debut after spending six years as an assistant, mostly under Jeff Van Gundy.
“It’s a shame the fans can’t be here,” Thibodeau said before the game. “But there is no better place for the big games in this building and the knowledge of the fans if you make a good game of basketball, it is recognized. It is a truly unique place. It’s the best place in the league to play. The players are very excited to play here. I am delighted to be a part of it. ”