The growing Knicks have won six of eight games since starting center Mitchell Robinson broke his hand, topping the .500 at this end of the season for the first time since 2012-13 and fourth in the Eastern Conference with convincing Sunday victory in Detroit.
They did so with a “next man standing” philosophy under the guidance of manager Tom Thibodeau and regular contributions throughout their roster, led by All-Star first striker Julius Randle.
Former Nerlens lottery winner Noel also more than cleverly filled Robinson, most notably recording heavy minutes for the Knicks (18-17) in their last two games with reserve center Taj Gibson also sidelined with a sprained ankle.
“Well, first, I’m never happy. Two, I always think we can do better, “Thibodeau said when asked Sunday night if he was satisfied with Noel’s contributions.” I’m proud of Nerlens for being ready, which we knew would be. And then we have many more. guys coming in. I don’t think you individually replace a guy like Mitchell.
“We have to do it collectively. If we play hard, play smart, play together, we can find a way to win. That’s what I want us to do. And every time someone else is called, someone gets in the rotation, be ready, get in and get the job done. This is the purpose of being a team. “