NEWYORK — Kemba WalkerChristmas started with him being officially returned to his starting guard position.
Then he delivered New York Knicks fan 101-87 win Trae Young-less than Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden, and did so in style: by recording a triple triple for the third time of his career and the first by Knick on Christmas Day.
“It was fantastic,” Walker said after finishing with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in 40 minutes in New York’s matinee win, becoming the seventh player to score three Christmas doubles in the calendar. NBA history. “Those are the moments you dream of, you know?
“It’s hard to put into words, to be honest. It’s special, just being at home, with that New York on my chest… a kid in New York City, born and raised. It feels great.”
Saturday marked Walker’s fourth game back on the field since coach Tom Thibodeau was forced to waive the decision to leave Walker on the bench as the Knicks were largely without any other defenders because of both injuries. and outbreaks of COVID-19 in the team.
On his comeback last Saturday in Boston, Walker scored 29 points against the Celtics (his first game in Boston since his summer transfer). He then scored 21 goals in Tuesday’s win over Detroit and 44 in Thursday’s loss to Washington before scoring twice to beat Atlanta.
Even before Saturday’s win, however, Thibodeau had seen enough to claim Walker had made a permanent start again, now that the Knicks (15-18) are back at full strength. There have been some questions as to whether New York will put Walker back on the bench and start Alec Burks at the guard point.
But Thibodeau – who said after Friday’s training session that he wants to get the New York bench unit back in action as it was at the start of the season when Burks joined – says Walker will stay on the field from the start of the year.
“No,” Thibodeau said before the game when asked if keeping Walker in the starting line-up was a difficult decision. “Whatever gives us the best chance to win, that’s what we have to do. So, you know, that’s what we’re doing.”
It doesn’t look like it will be Thibodeau’s decision as Walker sits on the bench for nine straight games as the coach chooses to go the other way at the post. During that time, Thibodeau seemed to have tried to avoid playing Walker – to the point where he even played the little-used striker Kevin Knox in place of him in a game where the Knicks were short-handed.
In those games, the Knicks won 1-8. They have split four games since Walker’s return to the field, including Saturday’s win. And while Walker didn’t have his best stats on Saturday (3 -12 from the field), Thibodeau was delighted with the way he played and said he has noticed a different attitude towards his point guard. since bringing him back to the floor.
Specifically, Thibodeau said he feels Walker has delayed too much with the players around him as he tries to fit in with a new team and that he has been much more aggressive in the last four games. via.
“The game tells you what to do,” says Thibodeau. “That’s what I love about the way he plays. I don’t think he’s forcing anything. They take him seriously, they’re aggressive with their coverage level against him, and he’s not against it.
“I think his pass is amazing. Sometimes it’s going to be his shot. Sometimes it’s his intrusion and his downfall. Sometimes if they’re aggressive with their trap. yourself, get out of the ball quickly and then everyone keep moving.”
When told of Thibodeau’s assessment that he has approached things with a different mindset since his return, Walker immediately agreed.
“I have,” he said. “That’s exactly my mindset. Just show up and be aggressive. I just tend not to want to step on my feet and I think that’s what I did very early on. I was here and I wasn’t. It’s aggressive. But I think being out and seeing how the game goes and flows will give me a different mindset.”
It’s a mindset that the Knicks also want to see consistently from Julius Randle. Easily the best season of his career last year, Randle has struggled to maintain that form throughout this season, including dropping from 41% of the 3-point shot to 32% in this season.
On Saturday, however, Randle summed up one of his best performances of the season, finishing with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists while shooting 9 to 15 from the field and 6 to eat. 9 from a distance of 3 points. This is the first time Randle has hit at least half of his shots since his previous win San Antonio Spurs on December 7th.
Randle says that, like Walker, he procrastinated too much at the start of the season, but he’s trying to play differently now.
“I think we’re just tit-for-tat with each other,” Randle said. “I think we delayed a little bit too much or tried to find a way to play together, and those things take time. We had a second hit.
“I’m happy for him. As a team-mate, as a brother, I’m happy for him that he can come out on the pitch and be who he is. I’m sure when he signed to come here this is what he wanted, envisioned, playing the kind of basketball he’s playing right now, so I think we just need to really get along and the team will Go as you please.”
That was certainly the case on Saturday, when Walker was cheered with chants of his name as he left the game with just minutes left, the start of a frenetic victory celebration that included an eye strike between the legs by the second year onwards Obi Toppin one more minute.
As for Walker, after three weeks wondering if – or when – he will be back on the field again, he says all that is now just water under the bridge.
He also said his heartbreak will be a positive impact once he’s back in his freshman year.
“I got over it,” Walker said. “It doesn’t matter anymore at this point. I just take it as luck. I think it’s a disguised luck, to be honest.
“God only works in mysterious ways, man. He’s blessed me, he’s kept me humble and grounded, and he’s helped me through a difficult situation. I just keep working, and time goes by and people go down, and me.” I came back. The first game against my old team, I went back to the starting line-up, and the rest is history from there.
“Everything happens for a reason.”
https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/32936367/new-york-knicks-kemba-walker-says-benching-blessing-disguise-posting-triple-double-return-lineup New York Knicks’ Kemba Walker says bestowing a ‘blessing in disguise’ after posting brace to return to roster