BOSTON — Evan Fournier went out on the court before the game Saturday night to try to loosen up a left thigh contusion, hoping to get himself in condition to play in the game against the Celtics, but to no avail.
And if there was any team that Fournier would have liked to play against it certainly would be the Celtics. In three games against Boston this season he has averaged 35 points per game — 32, 32 and then 41 Thursday for a career-high. This marked just the second game he has missed this season.
Fournier couldn’t explain after that career-best game why he was so successful against Boston, a team that he played briefly for last season, appearing in 16 games after a midseason trade. And he couldn’t explain how he went from zero points Tuesday against Indiana to the 41-point effort.
More injury news
Nerlens Noel was out again with what the team said was reconditioning work after being in health and safety protocols. This was the ninth straight absence for Noel, who has missed 23 of the first 40 games.
Kemba Walker was out for the fifth straight game with what the team said is a sore left knee. He was examined by team doctors Monday and no structural damage was found.
"We just want to make sure his knee calms down," Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He’s doing more. He’s day-to-day. When he’s ready, he’s ready."
Grimes steps up
With the injuries and absences this season rookie Quentin Grimes has had significant playing time, already appearing in 21 games and averaging 12.1 minutes per game. He also has earned the trust of his coach.
"I think the big thing with him is his toughness and competitiveness," Thibodeau said. "He already has the shot profile that you’re looking for. He’s got the ability to make threes, and there’s a huge defensive component to him. So he has all the characteristics that will allow him to get better and better as time goes on. As with most young guys the first time through, they’re learning and growing. Trial and error is a big part of learning. So just keep getting better and better."