Taj Gibson has played sparingly since re-marking with the Knicks in January, yet the veteran enormous man gave the Knicks a cautious lift Sunday night at the Garden.
With beginning focus Mitchell Robinson sidelined following hand a medical procedure and substitution Nerlens Noel fouled out, Gibson was coordinated against All-Star large man Karl-Anthony Towns and concocted a vital stop in the end seconds of the Knicks’ 103-99 success over Minnesota.
With the Knicks ahead 99-98 and 23.2 seconds remaining, Towns (27 focuses) missed a short jumper.
“Mentally, to be ready, for my teammates, just trying to inspire, trying to do what I have to do,” said Gibson, who was a teammate of Towns’ with the T’Wolves from 2017-19. “Just not letting KAT get middle. I’ve been around him a good amount of time to know that he wants to get into the middle of the lane and trying to shoot a running hook or a floater hook.
“It was a fight. I knew it was coming to him. I got lucky tonight. Just tried to use my body and just fight.”
Previous lottery pick Frank Ntilikina has showed up in only four games this season — and none since harming his correct knee on Dec. 29. He likewise went through seven days confined in his lodging in Miami recently for COVID-19 contact following, regardless of persistently testing negative for the infection.
“It was definitely not the best, but it was probably for everybody’s health,” Ntilikina said. “I did my best to just do some exercises in the room. I couldn’t do much. Tried to stay locked [in], stay focused on the season and on every goal.”
The Knicks had moved toward sending little-utilized watchman Dennis Smith Jr. to the G-League for game activity before he was exchanged to Detroit for Derrick Rose, yet Tom Thibodeau said “not yet” when inquired as to whether such a task is being considered for Ntilikina.