WASHINGTON — On and off the court, Immanuel Quickley made the most of his homecoming.
After arriving in Washington, the Maryland native surprised his mother, Nitrease Quickley, at her job at nearby Joppatowne High School.
Then he shined in front of his family at Capitol One Arena with a season-high 27 points in the Knicks’ 120-99 steamroll over the Wizards.
“I think it’s a lot of extra juice [when I’m home], like playing a high school game almost,” said Quickley, whose mother sat courtside Friday.
Similar to Wednesday’s victory over the Hawks, Quickley stepped up in crunch time with 16 points in the fourth quarter.
He and Jalen Brunson are evolving into the New York’s closers.
“He’s very special. He’s unbelievable. He’s playing phenomenal,” Brunson said. “Not enough good things to say about him.”
It was about 45 minutes before tipoff, and RJ Barrett was smiling and laughing on his way to lift weights.
The sense, just from Barrett’s mood, was that the small forward would return from his migraine issue. But only a few minutes later, the injury report again surfaced with Barrett as out.
It was the third straight game he missed with migraines, and, given his jovial attitude and normal presence on the Knicks bench, the latest absence was perplexing. Tom Thibodeau even seemed confused.
Despite the injury report listing “migraines” as the ailment the coach said, “I don’t know if they were able to find out specifically what it was, but he was very sick.”
“That’s all I’ll say. And if he’s not ready, he’s not ready. You trust the medical people, you trust him, and you go from there. He warmed up. He said he wasn’t quite there. We’ll see where he is tomorrow, but each day has been a lot better. … Just probably getting back and getting his wind. He’s still, he’s feeling fatigued. So there’s stuff you normally feel when you’re sick. … When he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go.”
Barrett was joined on the inactive list by Quentin Grimes, who sustained a sprained wrist in Wednesday’s victory over the Hawks.
The expectation, according to a source, is Grimes misses at least one more game, maybe two, although Thibodeau classified as a “pain tolerance thing” and “day-to-day.”
Josh Hart (nine points) again started for Barrett while Donte DiVincenzo (14 points), subbing in for Grimes, made his first start as a member of the Knicks.
Friday was an important victory for the In-Season Tournament.
After losing to Milwaukee in the opener two weeks prior, the Knicks would’ve lost almost all hope of advancing out of the group stage with another defeat.
They have In-Season Tournament games remaining against the Heat and Hornets, with the winner of the group automatically securing a spot in the quarterfinals.
“In season, out of season, any season, I love winning. So that’s all that matters,” Thibodeau said. “Get the win.”
There’s also the possibility of point differential being a factor but Thibodeau didn’t seem to care about running up the score. He took his starters out with a little over two minutes remaining Friday.
“I just want to make sure we have one more point than we do,” he said. “That’s my concern.”