DENVER — The Rising Stars snub hasn’t energized Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley. He’s been a train wreck in the three games since he wasn’t named to the All-Star showcase for rookies and sophomores.
Quickley entered Tuesday shooting 5-for-21 in his last three games. In the last 13 games, missing Derrick Rose as a sidekick, Quickley is shooting 28.6 percent overall.
The Kentucky combo guard was a rookie sensation and now it’s not happening for him. He’s forcing too many shots and not moving the ball.
Coach Tom Thibodeau, who doesn’t criticize players by name, came as close to it before the Knicks lost 132-115 to the Nuggets on Tuesday, with Quickley scoring five points on 2 of 9 shooting.
When asked if Quickley needs to take better shots, Thibodeau said, “I think the same thing. Like, I think he needs some easy shots. I think when he gets a couple easy shots, then I think he can get into rhythm. It’s better to simplify. So, open; shoot. save; move it Don’t over-complicate this. You start thinking too much. He’s a confident guy. We believe in him. We believe in his shot of him. He’s got a great shot. Just take the right ones, take the open ones, and if you’re guarded well — you’re seeing more blitzes. You’re getting a lot of attention. Just get off the ball. Don’t fight the pressure.”
Quickley, a second team all-rookie honoree last season entered play shooting 37 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from downtown.
The Knicks were not at full strength up front to face the league’s most daunting center in Nikola Jokic, the 2020-21 NBA MVP. Surging center Mitchell Robinson was out with a sore back and backup Nerlens Noel missed yet another game with a sore left knee that appears to be a chronic issue. That left the Knicks with a tandem of Taj Gibson and rookie Jericho Sims. Robinson was seen after Monday’s game against the Jazz hobbling to a private room with a trainer. He had racked up 19 points and 21 rebounds versus Utah.
Jokic scored 21 points and added 11 rebounds against the Knicks, with Gibson and Sims combining for 17 points and nine rebounds.
“It’s exciting to watch him play and see the impact he had,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said. “So with him not playing, my big thing was we got to keep these guys off the glass, led by Mitchell Robinson. Well now he’s not there. It definitely changes the outlook with no Nerlens and no Robinson, and yes, we look to establish Nikola early anyways, but it’ll be even more of a heightened awareness for us tonight knowing they’re a little bit thin in their backcourt.’ ‘