Mitchell Robinson didn’t return to action until the final preseason game, and even then, it was a quicker than expected appearance. But the rust and the effects of the surgery on his broken left foot have not shown.
Through the first two games of the season, he was ninth in the NBA in rebounding (13.0 per game) and third in field-goal percentage (80%).
Robinson had 10 points and 10 rebounds in 33:22 Sunday despite a scare when he tweaked his right ankle in a collision with Orlando’s Jalen Suggs. He limped off the court and was taken to the locker room briefly before returning.
"It was shocking," Robinson said. "It just happened so fast. And my right foot, that’s what I’m trying to come back off of. So when it happened, I was like, ‘Oh, snap. I don’t know what it is. I’m just trying to get back.’ "
After missing the first two games to attend to the birth of his first child, Taj Gibson was back with the team Sunday. Nerlens Noel, who has been hampered by a leg issue, remained sidelined and has yet to appear in a preseason or regular-season game.
"[Gibson] has been working out," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He didn’t travel. But I think he’s good. He had a good workout [Saturday]."
In the final week before the season started, the Knicks picked up Luka Samanic, a former Spurs first-round pick who was waived in training camp. But Samanic, who signed a two-way deal with the Knicks, has not arrived yet and likely will head straight to the Westchester Knicks.
"I think he’s due in, but I’m not sure," Thibodeau said. "I think it’s for the Westchester team. We’re excited to have him. We’ll get a look at him once they get going."
Rookies impress Thibs
In the first two games, all three of the Knicks’ draft picks — Quentin Grimes, Myles McBride and Jericho Sims — saw time on the court. McBride got his first extended minutes in the fourth quarter Friday and caught his coach’s eye with his hustle even with the game already a blowout.
"I just love him, Quentin and Jericho," Thibodeau said. "They’re our type of guys. They’re competitive. They’re tough. They want to learn. They’re gym rats. They’re not afraid. Those are usually the type of guys that will improve as we go. And then when they’re called upon, just be ready."