Knicks’ Quentin Grimes finally starting to log big minutes
Quentin Grimes has logged heavy minutes in back-to-back starts for the Knicks, perhaps finally putting much of the uncertainty over his lingering foot injury behind him.
Tom Thibodeau often has lauded Grimes as the Knicks’ top perimeter defender, but the second-year guard was sidelined for all but 43 minutes of the team’s first 16 games due to a foot soreness that has hampered him since early in training camp.
Grimes was on the court for 65 minutes over the past two games, including 33 in the Knicks’ win Monday night in Oklahoma City to complete an encouraging 3-2 road trip against several formidable Western Conference opponents.
“I feel great… I feel like I’m kind of back to my old game shape, really,” Grimes said after the game. We’re tired, but we wanted to come out [of the trip] 3-2, and that’s what we did.”
The 22-year-old Grimes moved into the starting lineup in the Knicks’ loss the previous day in Phoenix, playing 32 minutes with Cam Reddish unavailable due to a groin injury suffered in Friday’s loss at Golden State.
In addition to his eight points on 4-for-10 shooting Monday night, Grimes drew opposing guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as his primary defensive assignment. While the emerging star netted 30, Thibodeau credited Grimes and fellow second-year guard Miles McBride for their perimeter defense as a key to an improved effort after OKC put up 145 points in the previous meeting between the teams in New York eight days earlier.
“I know he’s having a stellar season right now. I knew he was gonna be a tough matchup coming in,” Grimes said of Gilgeous-Alexander, who is fourth in the NBA with 31.1 points per game. He’s a tough guard. He likes to get downhill, he’s crafty. You try to get physical with him, that’s why you see why he’s one of the best guards in the league.
“You just try and go out there and make it as tough as you can for him…and I feel like I did that.”
Even with Reddish sidelined for the past two games, veteran guard Evan Fournier didn’t play a minute on the road trip. With Derrick Rose also sidelined Monday with a toe injury suffered one day earlier in Phoenix, McBride was allotted a season-high 15 minutes off the bench. He and Grimes notched two steals a piece among the Knicks’ 10 for the game.
“I thought our defense was really good and they’re a hard team to guard,” Thibodeau said of the Thunder. “They’re big, they’re quick. It requires you to make multiple efforts on almost every play. They’re good moving without the ball. But I liked our togetherness on both offense and defense.
“I thought we had a number of guys step up and play well. You could start with Deuce and Quentin in terms of ball pressure.”
Thibodeau noted that RJ Barrett and Julius Randle also posted “big games” with 25 points apiece and point guard Jalen Brunson “had a monster game” with a season-high 34 in “a good, solid team win for us.”
“The way guys stepped up, Deuce coming in and giving us big minutes, QG, going from not playing for a bit and starting and giving us great minutes, I feel like everybody contributed,” said Immanuel Quickley, who scored 18 points. “That’s what we needed.”
“It’s what’s expected,” Brunson added of Grimes and McBride. “These guys work hard. Whenever their number is called, they’re ready. It’s how they’ve always been when I’ve seen them from afar. Now that I’m seeing them up close and personal it’s pretty cool to see.”