Julius Randall and RJ Barrett carried the night, carrying 40 minutes plus with each play and accumulating 54 points.
But rookie goalkeeper Emmanuel Quickley, in his third NBA match, veteran Austin Rivers, returned the Knicks home in the fourth quarter as he scored a 113-108 victory on the road in Atlanta to end his four-game journey 3-1. .
Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks are now a winning ball club and it’s 4-3 – by far the hottest NBA team in New York after winning four of their last five matches.
As with his talent, Quikley made a massive three-shot foul with 2:34 left, taking all three free throws as he finished on 16 points in 19 minutes, playing nearly the entire fourth quarter in which he scored 10 points.
Rivers, in his latest role as Closer, bumped into a massive 3-pointer with less than a minute left, then charged Trae Young.
Randall scored 12 points in the first quarter and finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists, losing one shy plate to a triple double, to continue the all-star season. The Hawks were the first team not to double the rising Knicks star.
RJ Barrett was superb with 26 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in 44 minutes as the Knicks recovered from a 15-point delay in the third quarter.
Nicks has a bit of a mammoth depth with Obi Tobin and Omri Spellman and took a hit when Nearlans Noel was eliminated from an ankle sprain. Noel was not in the injury report.
This forced Randall to enter the main minutes (43). With Randall controlling the interior and the Knicks attacking the edge, the club dominated the paint. It was 12 points out of the first 14 points in paint. The Junior Knicks built 24-14 early capping a lovely feed from Payton to Barrett for fast drenching, bringing the Knicks up to 10.
When asked why he held Quickley in fourth place, Thibodeau said:
“He can shoot. Just the way he deals with the game, the situation, the approach. He has that skill that unlocks everything. Every day gets better and better. When you are as smart as him, he picks up things quickly. We were searching and fighting and we found a group and we rode with it.”
He quickly scored on a pontoon to start the fourth quarter, making it 88-86. He finished 4 of 6 from the field, 2 of 3 from the 3-point streak and a 6 of 6 from the streak.
The Knicks tumbled 15 before rising at the last 1:30 of the third quarter. Kevin Knox hit a triple pointer for his first bucket of night. Quickley blew by Duke Cam Redish outstanding former ball throwing. Next, Knox hit another 3 – whistling from the corner and then raising his arms in celebration as the Knicks took an 88-84 lead.