Knicks Notes: Anunoby, Bogdanovic, Burks, Hart, Thibodeau

After returning to the Knicks‘ lineup Friday night, OG Anunoby said it was “just inflammation” in his right elbow that forced him to miss the previous nine games, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. Anunoby, who is operating under a minutes restriction, believed it was important to get back on the court before the postseason begins.

He was able to play three games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on the elbow in February, but suffered a setback that kept him out of action again. He told reporters that he took a different approach to rehab this time than he did immediately after the operation.

“Maybe less shooting. Building up the shooting, not just going back to shooting like I normally shoot,” Anunoby said. “So just taking my time and it’s going to get better and better.” 

Anunoby played 29 minutes on Friday, scoring 12 points and shooting 5-of-8 from the field. He replaced Miles McBride in the starting lineup and guarded DeMar DeRozan for most of the night. Anunoby made an immediate impact after being acquired from Toronto in late December, and Friday’s loss dropped the Knicks to 15-3 with him on the court.

“I’m happy he’s back, happy he’s healthy,” Jalen Brunson said. “Obviously, we didn’t win so it clouds my judgment right now (on how Anunoby played), but just happy he’s healthy and out there.” 

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks were expected to provide much-needed shooting help when they were acquired in a deadline deal with Detroit, but both players are in danger of being left out of the playoff rotation, Bondy states in a separate story. Bondy notes that Anunoby’s return pushes Burks to the 10th spot in the rotation, which is more players than coach Tom Thibodeau typically uses in the postseason. Bogdanovic and Burks have struggled with efficiency since coming to New York, and they’ve seen their playing time reduced recently.
  • Josh Hart was ejected in the first quarter Friday for kicking Javonte Green in the side of the head on a play that appeared to be accidental (video link), Bondy adds in another piece. Referee Scott Foster said “intent was not a criteria” in handing out the Flagrant 2.
  • Talking with the media in Chicago, where he coached for five years, Thibodeau pushed back against the long-standing criticism that he gives too many minutes to his starters, per Steve Popper of Newsday. “People tend not to look at — what are the star players playing? Because usually you’re matching their players with a primary defender,” Thibodeau said. “So when LeBron [James] is on the floor, that’s when that player is on the floor. So LeBron is playing 39, he’s 39. If DeMar is playing 40, then whoever is guarding him has to play 40. Otherwise, you’re reducing your chances of winning. And the bottom line is to win games.”
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