Alec Burks, Immanuel Quickley shine in fill-in duty for Knicks’ missing guards

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ATLANTA — Tom Thibodeau said with a straight face 90 minutes before tip-off of the Knicks’ game on Saturday night against the Hawks, that along with point guards Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose, he didn’t know who would start on the position.

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“I’m still not sure,” Thibodeau said.

It was a bit of sportsmanship by Thibodeau as he faced the mighty Hawks, who had romanced the Knicks in a 4-1 first-round series last spring and claimed the Eastern Conference’s elite point guard, Trey Young. .

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Thibodeau tapped Alec Burks for his first start of the season and it did a great job in a 99-90 upset win over the Red-Hot Hawks. Burke, who scored 23 points, revealed that he learned he would start with a morning walk.

Alec Burks said he didn’t know he’d start until the morning walk-through.
NBAE via Getty Images

The Knicks played so well with Burke’s start and Emmanuel Quickley backing him at point guard that rookie Miles McBride, who was drafted in the 36th draft, saw no time. There was already talk about the West Virginia point guard being a pesky matchup for Young, who ignited the Knicks in the playoffs last spring. But as Burks put it, the Knicks made Young look like “many different looks against a great player.

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“Yeah, everything’s on the table,” Thibodeau said of McBride before the game. “He’s part of the team. So we’ll see how it goes. He’s young, he’s learning and he’s a very competitive, great worker who keeps getting better and better.”

That Walker was selected to sit outside on Saturday in what the team called “rest” did not sit well with Thibodeau, who is against weight management. But Walker is a special case, having sat all back-to-back at the command of the Celtics last season. This season, he has sat out back-to-back halfs twice in three sets.

Given that Rose has sprained her ankle, it was quite a surprise decision by Walker, but a sign that she is in it for the long haul and is not taking any chances.

Thibodeau has to live with it.

“You have to trust the medical people and Kemba,” Thibodeau said. “When they say he can’t go he can’t. That’s all. … He’s healing and kemba. You talk to him and if he thinks he can go, he goes. If He thinks he can’t, so he doesn’t.


The Knicks were also without center Nerlens Noel, who missed his 12th game of the season with a knee pain. Taj Gibson (Waist) also dropped for the fourth consecutive contest, leaving rookie Jericho Sims in the rotation. Sims had six points and six rebounds in 21 minutes.


The Knicks made their offseason moves adding Walker and Ivan Fournier, mostly because of how their offense fell apart in the playoffs versus the Hawks.

Atlanta coach Nate McMillan noted how the Knicks now have more “isolation” players.

“Yeah, with Fournier and Walker, adding people like that to the roster, they’re scoring ability and put the ball in the basket,” McMillan said. “We did a good job [Julius] Randall, but it was the other guys that we had to stop and make sure they didn’t even land. He has more firepower with Walker this year.


The Knicks will next face the Nets on Tuesday.

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