Nerlens Noel stepping up for Knicks in Mitchell Robinson's absence

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Ryan Morik
·2 min read
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Nerlens Noel blocks shot versus Wizards
Nerlens Noel blocks shot versus Wizards

With Mitchell Robinson expected to miss four-to-six weeks with a fractured hand, Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson will both have to fill in a decently-sized void in the 22-year-old's absence.

So far, so good. Noel scored 10 points, knocking all but one shot from the floor in New York's 121-99 win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night. He also grabbed six boards and recorded two blocks.

"I felt great out there being with the starting lineup," Noel said. "I got comfortable pretty fast. ... I took it upon myself to be the veteran of the team and step up to the task, whatever’s asked of me. I think I’ve done that. I’ll take it up a notch for these next – whatever starts I get through this period of time. I definitely want to play my game."

"The big thing is, when you look at it statistically, and you see the rim protection and where he ranks in the league, you knew that would be a great asset and it’s the same thing with Mitch," head coach Tom Thibodeau said. "So when we sub, we don’t lose that component in the defense, which I think it’s critical...

But the fact that he’s an experienced guy, he’s a good veteran leader, he’s a hard playing guy and those things go a long ways towards winning. I think sometimes what they do – it’s not recognized in the box score, it’s maybe not glamorous to some, but I think to his teamamtes, to his coaches, in terms of impacting winning, those guys are invaluable to us. So we know how important they are."

Noel's 32 minutes are his longest in over two years, but he was definitely ready for the increased workload.

" I think it’s obviously the most minutes of the season, but I feel fresher than ever," Noel added. "So I definitely can’t wait to really get this thing going, string these games along and really leave my stamp on each and every game to really complement my teammates and open things up, not only on the defensive end, but the offensive end, pick and rolls, and just up the rim, rim reads, and making the right plays. I’m very excited for what’s to come.

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
Detroit
+170+4.5O 209.5
New York
-209-4.5U 209.5