The New York Knicks have lost three straight games and, according to head coach Tom Thibodeau, the team is “out of sorts” right now, which is not where you want things to be on the home stretch of a playoff race. All the while, All-Star Julius Randle has become increasingly more volatile amid the Knicks’ changing circumstances.
At the midway point of the Knicks’ Thursday loss to the Orlando Magic, Randle’s frustrations boiled over in a big, bad way as he went full-on nuclear on referee Leon Wood after a non-call that resulted in the baller crashing violently the hardwood.
In an attempt to save his teammate from receiving a technical foul — an effort that proved fruitless in the end — Immanuel Quickley inserted himself into the situation, getting between Randle and the official. However, Randle didn’t take kindly to the interjection, redirecting his steely gaze and biting words in Quickley’s direction.
After the game, Quickley did his best to take the high road in discussing the incident with reporters.
Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley Comes Out With Surprising Defense of Julius Randle After Altercation
While reporters danced around the issue initially, the discussion eventually shifted over to the Randle incident during Quickley’s postgame media availability. And while you could definitely see the wheels turning in his head as he responded to questions about the dust-up, the 23-year-old was careful not to throw his teammate under the bus.
“Everybody trying to win, everybody trying to win,” Quickley said of the exchange, via BasketballNews.com. “That’s basically what it is.”
When pressed for additional details on his attempt to calm Randle down — and the big man’s response to that effort — Quickley again tried to show compassion for his All-Star teammate.
“Honestly, everybody trying to win, that’s all I can really say. Sometimes it happens. It’s part of sports. It’s part of what it takes to be a professional athlete. It’s not just basketball, it’s other things with that,” Quickley said. “Everybody trying to win.”
Regardless of whatever emotional impact the altercation had on him, Quickley continued to put his best foot forward on the court. In a team-high 42 minutes of action, the Sixth Man of the Year candidate scored 25 points and added seven assists, five rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.
Knicks Drop Multiple Spots in B/R Power Rankings
In the wake of their losing streak — and with Thibodeau and others expressing concern about the team’s overall mindset — the Knicks dropped three spots in Bleacher Report’s latest NBA power rankings, from No. 8 to No. 11.
Wrote B/R’s Andy Bailey:
Basketball Reference’s “points added by field goal shooting” measures the number of points above or below average a player scores on his shot attempts. Barrett’s minus-116.4 ranks outside the top 500 and means he’s scored that many fewer points than a perfectly average shooter would’ve on the same number of two- and three-point attempts.
And the impact on plus-minus is sort of par for the course too. On the season, the Knicks have a point differential around that of a 38-win team when Barrett is on the floor and one around that of a 65-win team when he’s off.
It’s obviously too early for sweeping declarations about Barrett’s career, but if the Knicks are interested in winning a playoff series, it might be time to experiment with Josh Hart in the starting five.