MILWAUKEE — Quentin Grimes had done what he usually does — spent his night chasing around the most dangerous offensive weapon on the opposing team. And in the third quarter, the ball finally came to him and he tried to quickly fire up a three-point field goal that missed badly.
And that would be his only shot, sitting out the entire fourth quarter for the third straight game, finishing with no points, no assists and a growing, simmering frustration with his role.
“It feels like if I don’t hit the shot, I’m coming out,” Grimes said after the Knicks' 146-122 loss to the Bucks. “So every shot I shoot probably weighs like 100 pounds if I don’t make it. And our defense, it ain’t cutting it, so I know I ain’t going back in. So I gotta just keep shooting, keep staying in the gym, keep putting in reps, and I know it’ll all work itself out.”
How it works itself out it’s hard to say. Grimes became a full-time starter last season and averaged 11.3 points on 46.8% shooting. This season it’s down to 6.2 points and 36.3% shooting — with almost all of his attempts coming on catch-and-shoot three-pointers. When he gets a rare touch, he feels as if it is make it or sit — with Donte DiVincenzo taking much of the playing time he got last season.
Playing in the starting lineup with Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and RJ Barrett his role has been reduced to standing in the corner and waiting for a kickout. He is shooting just 5-for-28 over his last seven games since returning from a sprained left wrist. But he insisted his confidence has not wavered and he isn’t looking over his shoulder.
“I’m good,” he said. “It’s just hard when you go the whole quarter without touching the ball, the whole second quarter without touching the ball, and then you get one shot and you got to make it. So it’s tough going out there and just standing in the corner the whole game. Then you got to make the shot when you shoot the ball one or two times per game. It is what it is. We’ll see.”
“I think it’s on us to be, like I said before, a good teammate, make sure he keeps his confidence,” Brunson said. “Continue to play how the defense is playing us. Obviously, we have three players in the lineup who all go left, all do a lot of similar things. When it comes to Quentin, he’s had to keep with his confidence. He’s going to be open, he’s going to get to do stuff. He’s going to get the ball, so sometimes when the confidence is low it seems like the end of the world. But as teammates we need to pick him up and make sure he gets back on track.”
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has maintained that he is not considering a lineup change.
"I look at how the unit is functioning,” he said. “And so, I would say tonight, we didn’t play well and to put it on Quentin is not fair. I don’t think we really had anyone who played really well. So, we’re capable of a lot better. You win together; you lose together. Just focus on the improvement and getting ready for the next game.”