Mitchell Robinson went up for an offensive rebound with 1:45 left in the third quarter and fell hard to the floor, remaining down for a few minutes. He stayed in the game but said he was going to meet with team trainers afterward, still feeling pain in his lower back.
“It hurt,” he said. “I think I’m going to be OK. I’m going to get it looked at now.”
He managed to play nearly 35 minutes, and when he was out of the game, it was often to avoid being intentionally fouled by the Suns. He was 1-for-4 from the line, missing a pair in the fourth quarter, and is shooting a career-worst 35.3% this season.
“Just step up there with confidence,” he said. “That’s pretty much all there is to it.”
After a brief turn as an assistant general manager for the Utah Jazz, former Knicks coach David Fizdale is back on the bench, serving as an assistant to Frank Vogel with the Suns.
Fizdale, who coordinates the defense for Phoenix, oversaw the Lakers’ offense from 2021-22 under Vogel.
“Fiz is one of the best coaches in the league,” Vogel said. “You know, tough deal here [with the Knicks]. He didn’t have the [players] to succeed, and you hope that coaches get more of an opportunity than he got here.
“But he’s one of the best coaches in the league. He’s done it with Miami — he won a championship as a top assistant. He did a great job for me in L.A. even though we had a difficult season there together. And he’s doing a great job with us.”
Vogel thinks Fizdale still can have success in a role beyond the bench. “The front office is compelling to him. He sees a future in that at some point,” he said. “He was in a great spot, you know, with Danny Ainge — one of the best executives in the game and learning from one of the best. There was an opportunity.
“For us, we always talked about having unfinished business together because we had such a short time in L.A. So the opportunity came up and we went out and got him.”
While the Knicks traded away Obi Toppin to Indiana, younger brother Jacob Toppin has averaged 16.4 points per game for the G League Westchester Knicks, including a 30-point performance on Saturday.
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said he has seen Toppin only in practice this season but added, “I like him a lot. I like the way he works. He’s done a good job. I think just for him, the challenge will be developing consistency with his shot. But he’s a very good all-around player.”
Duane Washington Jr., who is on a two-way contract and has yet to appear in a game with the Knicks this season, suffered a right thumb injury. He will be re-evaluated in six to eight weeks.