Marshall Plumlee made his NBA debut Sunday in one of the most bizarre and most New York ways imaginable.
Plumlee had been sent down to the Knicks’ D-League team in Westchester. He played for them Saturday night and was supposed to play for them late Sunday afternoon. But Plumlee was awakened in his White Plains home on Sunday morning and told to come to the Garden. Joakim Noah was ill and the Knicks needed another big man.
The undrafted rookie center said he took a train from White Plains to Grand Central Station, hopped into a cab and “paid” the driver “to run a red light.” Then, because of traffic, he got out and sprinted the last few blocks. Plumlee arrived during the first quarter.
“It was crazy,” he said. “I feel like I could write a book about it. Just imagine being woken up, saying like, ‘Hey, we need you to guard Dwight Howard.’ ”
Plumlee had one rebound and one foul in 5:26.
“You get the news, I sprint over here as fast as I can. I paid a cab driver to run a red light. And I’m just sprinting through the city. I got here, they said, ‘Hey, do you need a warm-up?’ I said, ‘No, I’m already warm. I ran here.’
“Yes, literally running down the streets. I don’t know [how many blocks]. I made the cab driver stop. I don’t want to make up a big thing, you guys think I’m superman. At some point, I had to make him stop.”
When asked how much it costs to ask a cab driver to run a red light, Plumlee said, “Apparently 60 bucks.”
Man in the middle
After his pregame workout, Kyle O’Quinn learned from assistant coach Howard Eisley that he would be starting for Noah. Then O’Quinn received a supportive text from Noah.
“He said, ‘Just pick it up, what we’re trying to build on, what we did in practice the other day, and go out there and set the tone as if I was here,’ ” O’Quinn said. “I was like, ‘All right.’ Opportunity knocked and we were all ready as a team defensively.”
O’Quinn was active in the first quarter with six points and seven rebounds but went to the bench with three fouls. He finished with eight points and eight rebounds.
“I didn’t want to go out there and not let my presence be felt,” O’Quinn said. “I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity of getting some minutes and really give Coach a reason to put me in the game. Hopefully I did that.”
Jeff Hornacek said he likes the pairing of point guards Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings because they can attack on offense, but he added that it’s not a good defensive lineup and that he’d rather play more traditionally.
The two sparked a 47-point fourth quarter in Thursday night’s loss to the Wizards, but the Knicks gave up 32 points in the quarter. Hornacek went with those two together for the last 7:09 on Sunday and the Knicks outscored Atlanta 19-18 to end the game.