Knicks guard Jalen Brunson reacts in the first half of...

Knicks guard Jalen Brunson reacts in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Madison Square Garden on Monday, March 20, 2023. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

After Sunday’s practice in which the Knicks said Jalen Brunson was a full participant, he was scratched again shortly before game time Monday with what the team is calling a sprained right hand.

Brunson, who wore a splint on his hand after the Miami game last Wednesday and then sat out Thursday in Orlando while wearing the splint and hiding his hand in the pocket of his hoodie, never surfaced for pregame warmups Monday.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said on Sunday that he was unaware if Brunson had undergone an MRI or X-ray, but he spoke confidently of Brunson’s ability to return to play before the game.

"Yeah, over the course of the season guys get nicked up,” Thibodeau said. “I think they know how to play through things. Just take care of the ball. That’s one of the things I think as a team we’ve done very well all season long. It’s a big part of winning.”

Respects for Reed

A moment of silence was held at Madison Square Garden for Willis Reed before the start of the game and a spotlight shined on his jersey hanging in the rafters. Knicks players wore Reed T-shirts during warmups and on their jerseys was a black ribbon with Reed’s No. 19.

A video tribute of highlights and his meaning to the franchise and the city played after the moment of silence. Part of the tribute to Reed included a video message from Patrick Ewing, the closest thing to the kind of star Reed was in the decades that have followed Reed’s career.

"I was blessed to meet Willis when I was a rookie, and all the things that he said to me helped me to be the player that I became,” Ewing said. “I was sad when I heard the news that Willis had passed away. We’ve lost a great one.

“Willis is the true embodiment of what it means to be a New York Knick. He will be missed. I will miss him. And I know he’s up in heaven looking down on us and smiling. New York Knicks for life.”

Better job

Stephen Silas has had a tough task serving as head coach of the young and rebuilding Rockets. But it might be better than his first job — when his late father Paul Silas was on the Knicks' coaching staff.

“I was a ballboy when — don’t know if you remember the play that [Michael Jordan] made, took it baseline, dunked,” Silas said. “That was my basket, my hoop where I was the one wiping up the sweat. When Patrick Ewing would be shooting free throws, I was the one running out there to wipe up the sweat between free throws, then he’d run down and I’d wipe it up again. It’s crazy that me, who was that guy, is now the head coach of a team that’s playing here. It’s pretty cool.”


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