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Immanuel Quickley offered a 12-minute tease in the Knicks’ season opener in Indiana, then exited with a hip pointer.
A week and a half later, with the Knicks returning to Indiana, the rookie guard was finally back.
Quickley made an instant impact and finished with nine points in 15 minutes as the Knicks beat the Pacers, 106-102, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“A little rust, obviously, but overall, very pleased,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Good energy. You can see he’s clever in terms of drawing fouls, which is very important.”
After impressing in the preseason then missing four games with the injury, which he sustained when colliding with Myles Turner on Dec. 23, Quickley showed a knack for driving to the rim and drawing fouls on the way, doing it three times in his first nine minutes in the first half. The No. 25-overall pick also drained a 3-pointer.
“He’ll get his rhythm really quickly,” Thibodeau said. “He’s really talented and he’s smart and he’s a great worker. I love his attitude, I love his approach. He’s going to be a really good player in this league for a long time.”
Thibodeau picked up his first technical foul as head coach of the Knicks with 5:33 left in the third quarter while arguing a foul call on Julius Randle.
“We’re just trying to win,” Thibodeau said. “We’re trying to protect each other, that’s my job, to make sure we’re getting our fair share of calls.
“Whatever we gotta do to win — I don’t like getting technical fouls and certainly I don’t want anyone to get technical fouls in the fourth quarter. So those are hard to make up, but usually I’m pretty low on technicals.”
Austin Rivers, playing in his second game of the season after being sidelined by a groin injury, drove to the rim for a bucket early in the second quarter before falling and jamming his head into the stanchion. He stayed down for the ensuing possession, but after holding his neck during a timeout, remained in the game and finished with 15 points.
Veteran guard Alec Burks (sprained left ankle) missed his third straight game and is still day-to-day, but “making good progress,” Thibodeau said.
Though Quickley’s return helped the Knicks at point guard, they were still shorthanded at the position with Frank Ntilikina (sprained right knee) and Dennis Smith Jr. (contused left quad) remaining out.
Rookie forward Obi Toppin (strained right calf) and Omari Spellman (sore right knee) also continued to sit out with injuries.