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Healthy Reggie Bullock starting to give Knicks a boost

Giannis Antetokounmpo, center, of the Bucks passes the

Giannis Antetokounmpo, center, of the Bucks passes the ball against Reggie Bullock, left, of the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. Credit: AP/Mike Strobe

Through the early season as players have risen and fallen in status one thing has been a constant for the Knicks: Reggie Bullock has gone almost unnoticed.

And for Bullock that’s a good thing right now.

His most noticeable moment in the early going came not in the boxscore, but on his back. In the Knicks home opening game Saturday against Philadelphia he took the court wearing the Knicks new city edition jersey, his familiar No. 25 on the front and his name across the back. But the large number on the back was 23 - causing the officials to halt the game and send him to change.

"It never happened to me before," Bullock said. "I thought it was pretty funny. As long as they had the last name right, which was good. They just had the numbers wrong. I didn’t make too big a deal about it.

"I definitely found out later. Our jerseys [in our locker] are not turned around. [The front] is facing us in the locker room. So it was normal routine, going in the locker room and putting my jersey on. If I would’ve noticed it, I definitely wouldn’t have put the jersey on. But it was pretty funny. It was a hilarious thing for the team. We got good laughs out of it."

A humorous start to the season is better than what he went through last year. His initial season with the Knicks was delayed by a neck injury which also forced him to renegotiate what had been an agreed-upon contract. That at least made him a low-cost option for this season that led the Knicks new management team to bring him back for a second chance. He earned a starting spot and has played well for new head coach Tom Thibodeau.

"Well, his defense has been terrific," Thibodeau said. "So just watching him move on the court he’s obviously not laboring like he did last year. I think health is the big thing and he’s been a good pro wherever he’s been. Talk to the people who have coached him and people who have played with him they all have a very high regard for him and great respect. And so I think his health is a big thing. He’s shown that thus far."

Bullock played just 29 games last season and came off the bench in 10 of them. But while much of the hype was about the rookies and newcomers on the Knicks, he got a starting role this season for Thibodeau. His numbers have not been anything special, averaging 8.0 points per game and shooting just 36.4 percent.

Alec Burks was sidelined by an ankle injury Tuesday as the Knicks began a four-game, four-city road trip and the Knicks were already without Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin and Dennis Smith Jr., so having a healthy shooting threat was a welcome addition. Austin Rivers, who was expected to provide some of that offense, has not played since suffering a groin injury in the first practice of training camp and remains a few steps from his debut.

"I’ve worked on my body a lot," Bullock said. "I got my body right. I’m really taking care of my body a lot this season, trying to do whatever I can to be able to go out and compete with my teammates. The neck issue is something behind me now. I’m taking the season as it comes and continue to stay healthy."

New York Sports