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Taj Gibson in Knicks' starting lineup for first time

Taj Gibson of the Knicks battles for the

Taj Gibson of the Knicks battles for the ball in the first half against Semi Ojeleye of the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. Credit: Jim McIsaac

DALLAS — The Knicks took the floor against the Mavericks at American Airlines Center on Friday night with their sixth different starting lineup in the first nine games, inserting Taj Gibson for the first time this season.

With Mitchell Robinson sidelined by a concussion suffered Wednesday in Detroit, David Fizdale put the 34-year-old Gibson into the lineup at center, opting to use him rather than Bobby Portis, who had gotten one start in that spot earlier this season.

“I want to try to get Bobby locked into that bench role more,” Fizdale said, “and really get him focused in and get him playing well from that standpoint.”

Gibson had 12 points and eight rebounds in the Knicks’ 106-102 win. Portis had 14 points and 12 rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench.

Smith returns

Dennis Smith Jr. flew into Dallas on Thursday afternoon and joined the team at the morning shootaround Friday. He was at the arena for a workout before heading back to the hotel to watch the game.

Smith, who had been home in North Carolina with his family after the sudden death of his stepmother, was inactive for the game, but he did make a special appearance.

According to The Dallas Morning News, Smith paid a visit to the family of Shavon Randle, a 13-year-old seventh-grader who was kidnapped and murdered in 2017.

Last December, realizing that Randle’s family was about to spend its second Christmas without Shavon, Smith took Randle’s parents and siblings on a surprise shopping spree.

After meeting with the family Thursday evening, Smith returned to the house Friday morning and accompanied Randle’s brother and sister to school before heading to the morning workout with the Knicks.

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