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Immanuel Quickley provides spark in Knicks’ blowout loss


The Knicks were without noted Celtics killer Evan Fournier on Saturday night, but the teammate who replaced him in the starting lineup at least attempted to assume that role.

With Fournier sidelined with a contused left hip, Immanuel Quickley moved into the starting lineup and scored 12 of his 18 points in the first half to provide one of the few positive performances in the Knicks’ lowest scoring game of the season, a 99-75 blowout loss to the Celtics in Boston.

“I thought he played really well. The first half he had us organized and had real good looks,” coach Tom Thibodeau said of Quickley. “It was a good start for him and then I want him to take more control in the second half, and I think he will. He’s done a good job for us.”

Fournier had netted a season-high 41 points and matched J.R. Smith’s franchise record with 10 made 3-pointers in the Knicks’ buzzer-beating win Thursday over the Celtics at Madison Square Garden. He had averaged 35 points with 20 3-pointers in three games against his former team this season before sitting out Saturday night.

Immanuel Quickley, who scored 18 points, drives past Marcus Smart.
AP

Making only his second start of the season, Quickley nailed all three of his attempts from long distance and played all 12 minutes in the first quarter, when the Knicks grabbed a 26-21 lead.

With guards Derrick Rose (ankle) and Kemba Walker (knee) also still out of the lineup, Quickley remained on the floor to start the second quarter, logging nearly 15 minutes overall before Thibodeau replaced him with RJ Barrett. Quickley’s 12 points in the half paced the Knicks, who trailed by two, 44-42, at intermission.

The 22-year-old former Kentucky star knocked down three midrange jumpers in the third quarter to boost his total to 18. But he didn’t score thereafter and the Celtics extended their lead to as many as 18 before carrying a 76-60 advantage into the final period.

“[Thibodeau] just talked to me one-on-one about [taking control] and I’m still learning,” Quickley said. “I’ll be the first one to tell you I’m not perfect. I want to be, as much as I can be. But just trying to take command of the team and put guys where they need to be whether it’s offense or defense.

“Just going through things like this, it helps out a lot. I’ll be better, we’ll be better next game.”

Though Julius Randle, Barrett and Alec Burks shot a combined 29.4 percent from the field (15-for-51), Quickley finished 7-for-11 and added four assists over 37 minutes, including 3-for-5 from 3-point land.

Other than Quickley and Mitchell Robinson (5-for-5, 11 points), the Knicks posted an aggregate .270 shooting percentage.

“I think our team is our team. … I feel like whoever we play, we can get a win,” Quickley said. “Whoever steps in can help us win, we just have to be better as a team.”

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