The fourth quarter of Monday night’s 92-84 victory over the Indiana Pacers was more like the New York Knicks basketball the NBA has grown to expect from Tom Thibodeau’s men.
After the Knicks’ starting five struggled yet again to fall into an 11-point hole during the third quarter, New York’s defense led by its second unit clamped down, allowing just 10 points in the fourth quarter to snap a two-game skid and a 2-5 stretch over their last seven.
The Knicks held Indiana to just 2-of-20 shooting from the floor in the final 12 minutes while outrebounding an aggressive team on the glass 17-11 — including a 14-7 spread on the defensive boards.
“That’s how we win games. Digging down defensively and getting stops,” forward Julius Randle said. “Offensively, you know, good or bad, you can’t control misses and makes but 10 points in the fourth is impressive, that’s Knicks basketball, so we have just got to continue to build on that.
It was the first time this season that the Knicks held an opponent to under 90 points in a game, providing a reminder that they can regain their form from last year that saw them develop into the best defensive team in the NBA under Thibodeau.
“I think that is part of who we are,” Randle added. “Defensively, coming out playing hard and giving that energy and effort, that grit, you know, especially on the defensive end.”
While the Knicks held the Pacers to just 10 points in the fourth quarter, Immanuel Quickley came off the bench to score eight of his 16 points in the final frame including a three-pointer with 4:50 to go that put New York ahead for good at 83-82.
“He has the demeanor of a ten-year veteran,” veteran center Taj Gibson said. “You can tell by the way that he comes into practice every day. He just is built for the NBA, he loves to practice, you’ve got to kick him out of the gym, he is easy to talk to and he just is ferocious out there.
“He is still trying to figure out ways to become a better defensive player, but he is a coachable kid and we trust him, we look forward to him making those big shots. We get frustrated when he doesn’t shoot the big shot and that is how much we believe in him.”
The second-year man out of Kentucky continues to impress, especially as he works alongside veteran guard Derrick Rose, who was just as clutch off the bench with 14 points and seven assists in the win.
“We are a team. I say it all the time,” Quickley said. “When [the bench] doesn’t have it, [the starting five] has it and when they don’t have it, we’ve got it. So the energy was just there tonight, from top to bottom.”