The Knicks finally got Austin Rivers back in the lineup for his team debut, but they still had four injured guards sidelined in the Knicks’ 100-83 loss to the Toronto Raptors Thursday night in Tampa, Fla.
Frank Ntilikina (sprained right knee) and Dennis Smith Jr. (left quad) already had been ruled out for the game, but Alec Burks (sprained left ankle) and rookie Immanuel Quickley (sore left hip) also were downgraded from questionable to out shortly before tip-off.
There was a possibility that Quickley might return Thursday after missing three games since he suffered a hip pointer in his NBA debut in the season opener at Indiana on Dec. 23.
“He’s getting closer each day, and each day he’s done quite a bit more, more contact, that sort of thing but he’s not quite there,” coach Tom Thibodeau said before the game. “We felt let’s wait another day or two and see. … When he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go.”
The injuries left starters Elfrid Payton and RJ Barrett, little-used reserves Jared Harper and Theo Pinson and the debuting Rivers (groin) as the Knicks’ backcourt options.
Smith has been getting treatment for a contusion in his left quad and remains day-to-day. Thibodeau said the guard was “en route” to accompany the team for the remainder of the four-game road trip, which continues Saturday in Indiana, “but he’ll still be out for a while.”
Rivers scored seven points to go along with five assists in 21 minutes.
The Raptors are currently playing their home games at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla., due to COVID-19 restrictions in Canada.
“It is different to be here. Everyone, I think they’ve made the best of a tough situation. I think it’s probably a smart thing to do,” Thibodeau said. “When you come in, the ushers, everyone, is welcoming you to Toronto, so there’s a little humor added to it, which makes it a little bit better.
“I’m sure for them it’s hard. It’s a team that gets great support, as most NBA teams do, in their hometown. So them being away from home, I’m sure they would prefer to be in Toronto. Tampa is a beautiful city and the people have been wonderful, so we’re fortunate that they were willing to take them in.”
Forwards Obi Toppin (calf) and Omari Spellman (knee) also remained out for the Knicks.