New York Knicks: Who stepped up in preseason win over Wizards?

New York Knicks (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
New York Knicks (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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New York Knicks (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
New York Knicks (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks opened the preseason with a victory against the Washington Wizards. Who stepped up in the 104-99 win?

After six long months, New York Knicks basketball returned on Monday, Oct. 7, with a road game against the Washington Wizards. Anticipation built over the previous 12 weeks, including the selection of RJ Barrett, free agency chaos and training camp.

The first night transpired properly for the Knicks, defeating the Wizards, 104-99. Early in the game, the lead was up to 17 points, but pesky play from Washington’s guards closed the gap on a few occasions. Late free throws iced the matchup.

Along the way, players stepped up for the Knicks in this five-point victory, and it was not just one person, either. The youth and the veterans ensured this was a productive first night of play.

Who contributed to the first win in the season’s meaningless four-game stretch? Let’s take a look:

Taj Gibson

Stats: 16 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 5-for-9 shooting, 2-for-4 on three-pointers

A surprisingly productive night at the offensive end, Taj Gibson stepped up for a near double-double, with 16 points and nine rebounds. Along with a few three-point shots, it was a steady debut for someone who probably will not start a game for the New York Knicks.

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Gibson did his damage when Marcus Morris exited stage left in the third quarter. Minutes were available in the frontcourt, and head coach David Fizdale did not push Julius Randle too hard with on-court time, leading to 19 minutes off the bench.

Nights like this might not happen often, as Bobby Portis sat out with a rib contusion. The young power forward will take his own minutes workload, potentially cutting Gibson’s time in half or even causing absences via coach’s decision. Time crunches are inevitable, given what happened with Ignas Brazdeikis and Allonzo Trier in the opener, and that will occur for the frontcourt, too.

For one night, though, it was a promising night for Gibson, one of the many newcomers. He can be effective when called upon, so head coach David Fizdale has at least one reliable player off the bench to spell Morris, Randle, Mitchell Robinson and others.

This was not the only forward to step up, as well, in what could have been an eye-opening night.