Atlantic Notes: Achiuwa, Hartenstein, Lowry, Barnes, Quickley

Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa took over the starting power forward position over the past 10 games in Julius Randle‘s absence and has played some of the best basketball of his career during that stretch, The Athletic’s Fred Katz writes. Achiuwa is averaging 14.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.5 blocks in his last 10 outings, including three games with more than 15 rebounds.

Achiuwa flew under the radar when he was moved to New York in the trade for OG Anunoby, but he’s been one of the team’s steadiest contributors after uneven stops in Miami and Toronto to begin his career, Katz writes. Playing under coach Tom Thibodeau has unlocked aspects of Achiuwa’s game, including effective fake dribble handoffs.

You knew there was versatility to his game,” Thibodeau said. “But we didn’t understand the dribble handoff part of it, all those things. And the offensive rebounding is something that we liked from the start. We knew he was very effective with that.

The Knicks will have some decisions to make once Randle returns to the lineup, but Achiuwa is making a strong case to be included in a fully healthy rotation, according to Katz.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein returned to the court on Thursday after missing three games with injury. However, according to New York Post’s Stefan Bondy, Hartenstein left the arena with “a little frustration” about his minutes because they differed from his ramp-up plan. Hartenstein said he was supposed to hit the 21-minute mark but he only played 11 in a win over the Sixers.
  • Kyle Lowry made his debut with the Sixers on Thursday, scoring 11 points, four rebounds and five assists while receiving a standing ovation in front of his hometown crowd. “It was an amazing atmosphere and the ovation that I got was awesome. I was happy,” Lowry said, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “I was pissed that we lost and we were in that situation, but it was a great moment. Now for me it’s about winning basketball games.” Lowry was born in Philadelphia and played college ball at Villanova.
  • When the Raptors acquired Immanuel Quickley, they added an athletic guard who can shoot the ball — an ideal complement on paper to star Scottie Barnes. While there have been some bright spots with the pairing, The Athletic’s Eric Koreen observes that it’s still a work in progress. Each player is playing individually well, but Toronto is looking for more synchronicity with the duo, per Koreen.
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