Donte DiVincenzo is the answer at the two.
It’s been the biggest revelation for the Knicks, who have not gotten the production they expected out of Quentin Grimes in the starting lineup at the shooting guard spot this season.
Grimes’ cold shooting streak continued in the Knicks’ 119-106 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday.
The third-year guard sat the entire fourth quarter for the second game in a row — and DiVincenzo, in both games of a back-to-back, played the entire fourth quarter for head coach Tom Thibodeau.
Grimes is now shooting just 4 of 20 from behind the arc in his last six games, including back-to-back games shooting zero percent from downtown. He scored just four points in the win.
DiVincenzo lit the Raptors up and tied a career-high set earlier this season with seven 3s in Toronto on Friday. He is 11 of 17 from downtown over the past two games and is shooting 44% from downtown on the season.
All of DiVincenzo’s field goals have come from behind the arc. The veteran finished with 21 points.
“The two I missed today I think I forced them,” he said in his walk-off interview. “When I let them come to me, they went in, and I’ve gotta just keep doing that.”
It’s a sensitive, yet important topic to touch given the roster construction for the team that resides at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks very clearly have a logjam at the guard spot with Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett playing a large majority of the minutes at the one and three, respectively.
The Knicks promoted Grimes to the starting spot over Evan Fournier last season due to his ability to defend the opposing team’s best player and knock down 3s, but his shot hasn’t fallen. He is entering the third year of his rookie contract and will be eligible for an extension next summer.
“There’s ups and downs. Just be mentally tough,” Thibodeau said of Grimes’ struggles after Thursday’s struggles against the Pistons. “Play defense. Run the floor. You don’t know when it changes. It could change the next play. You get an easy bucket. A shot goes down. He’s a good player. So you’ve gotta navigate the good. You can navigate them when it gets tough.
“Soldier on. That’s it. Just keep going.”
The Knicks, however, have already paid DiVincenzo to the tune of $47 million over the next four seasons.
He is proving well worth the investment. He looks like a starter who is coming off the bench.
Bench depth is one of the Knicks’ biggest strengths.
Case-in-point: Josh Hart rattled off 15 straight points in the third quarter to create separation from a feisty Raptors team on Friday.
In a game Julius Randle (20 points) gutted-out with knee soreness, the Knicks’ bench tallied 52 points with Hart scoring 17 points and Immanuel Quickley adding 10.
There is something to be said, however, for putting your best foot forward. DiVincenzo is making a case to be just that — the Knicks’ best foot at the two-guard spot — and it’s hard to deny his impact while Grimes’ cold shooting rages on through the season.
Scottie Barnes scored 29 points on 13-of-19 shooting from the field, and Pascal Siakam added 21 points for Toronto, while the Knicks held O.G. Anunoby to 4-of-13 shooting from the field and 1-of-6 shooting from downtown. Barrett mustered 15 points on 18 shot attempts in his first game in Canada this season, and added six assists.
And after hanging 42 points on the Detroit Pistons on Thursday, Brunson scored 22 points to help lift the Knicks to victory.
The Knicks and Raptors were tied at 57 at halftime before the Knicks outscored them 33-20 in the third quarter. The Knicks are now 10-0 against teams with a losing record.
Their next game, however, won’t be easy.
The Knicks advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NBA’s In-Season Tournament and have three days off before traveling to Milwaukee to face the Bucks on Tuesday.
If they win, they will advance to the Las Vegas rounds for a chance to win $500k and the first-ever NBA Cup.