NEW YORK -- The Knicks and their fans went out of their way to celebrate the returns of Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett, who each played at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night for the first time since being traded to the Toronto Raptors for OG Anunoby last month.

The Knicks cruised to a 126-100 victory, improving to 9-2 since the start of 2024 -- which coincided with Anunoby's Knicks debut.

"It was great, just to come back," said Quickley, who had 12 points and 11 assists in 31 minutes. "Obviously didn't get the outcome we wanted ... [but] just to see everybody where I started my professional career was pretty cool."

Quickley and Barrett each received standing ovations during player introductions and then during a tribute video that was shown during the first media timeout. Barrett, the No. 3 overall pick in 2019, had openly wondered in the days leading up to his return whether the Knicks would give him a tribute video and admitted he was pleasantly surprised to get it.

"It was amazing," said Barrett, who had 20 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists, of the reception from the fans. "Thank you to the fans, for sure. We got a tribute video. ... I didn't think we were going to get that. That was cool.

"I'm very appreciative of my time here. To come back had a lot of emotions, for sure. But it was fun to come back and play basketball again."

The trade has felt like a win for both teams, which might have helped contribute to what was a very friendly atmosphere before, during and after Saturday night's contest.

Before the game, Barrett and Quickley both had plenty of warm greetings with familiar faces inside the arena. In the game's opening moments, both players had some celebratory moments, with each scoring six points in the first six minutes of the first quarter. But Jalen Brunson, who led New York with 38 points, and the Knicks went on to blow the game open in the second half.

Afterward, Barrett, Quickley and their former teammates spoke about their respective bonds with one another. Julius Randle, who had an 18-point, 16-rebound, 10-assist triple-double, spoke about how he will "forever" follow how Barrett and Quickley are doing.

"Those guys are special talents," Randle said. "It's a special relationship I've built with them. I know they talk about how much I meant to them, but they mean a lot to me, to be honest. Talking about leadership, how I carry myself, how to be open, how to be honest, how to be motivated -- those are things I didn't necessarily have coming in vocally. I always wanted to lead by example, just play hard every night.

"But those guys with me brought a different side out of me. ... The relationship that I have with them is extremely special."

Still, the deal made sense for everyone involved when it was consummated late last month, and Saturday night's game showed why. Anunoby has slotted in beautifully alongside Brunson and Randle, providing elite defense and low-usage spot-up shooting to perfectly complement New York's high-usage stars -- both of whom have been on a tear lately.

Anunoby is now plus-190 in 404 minutes for the Knicks since the trade, by far the NBA's best individual plus-minus mark over that span. And New York, which has gone 9-2 since Anunoby arrived, jumped from eighth in the East at the end of 2023 to fifth after Saturday night's action.

"Yeah, I'm impressed," Anunoby dead-panned. "I always want to impact winning. So I want to keep having a good plus-minus."

Quickley, meanwhile, was going to be a restricted free agent this summer and wanted to get a starting point guard job somewhere. He will have the title for the foreseeable future in Toronto playing alongside rising star forward Scottie Barnes. Barrett, who at times was an awkward fit playing alongside Brunson and Randle, should get more time with the ball in his hands with the Raptors. He's also the first active Canadian National Team star to suit up for Canada's NBA franchise.

Toronto will now move forward with Barnes, 22, Barrett, 23, and Quickley, 24, as the core of its team, as well as potentially having three first-round picks in June's NBA draft after trading Pascal Siakam to the Indiana Pacers this week.

"It definitely takes time," Quickley said of replicating the relationships he had in New York with Barnes and others in Toronto. "It's like meeting a new girl. You can't just ... you got to take time to get to know her. You got to take her out to eat, stuff like that.

"You ain't gonna just walk up to her and say, 'Let's get married.' That ain't gonna work. No, it'll come together. Rome wasn't built in a day. We have to keep working, individually and as a team we have to continue to try to take steps, and if we keep chopping wood and carrying water we'll get there."