Knicks’ Evan Fournier ‘happy’ to see first action in weeks after benching

Oct 30, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Knicks guard Evan Fournier (13) reacts after a three-point basket in the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Evan Fournier hasn’t seen play for the Knicks in 22 games after he was removed from the rotation earlier this season.

So you know New York was desperate when coach Tom Thibodeau called Fournier’s number to play against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night. Sure, it took Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett to be sidelined with injuries for the 30-year-old to see the court, but the vet stayed ready and made the most of his shot.

“I’m just doing the work daily,” Fournier said after the game. “I got a chance to play and I was just trying to be present, just, you know, be in the moment and just help the team win… It was a lot easier to play than to be on the bench and watch the guys there . I’m actually happy I got a shot at being back out there.”

Fournier scored 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting (1-3 from three) and had two rebounds and two steals in 17 minutes. Not bad for a player whose last game was on Nov. 13.

“He was great. He came in and played within himself,” Julius Randle said of Fournier’s performance. “It’s tough to have a rhythm when you haven’t played in that long but he competed, made timely shots. So he was good.”

Randle scored a game-high 41 for the Knicks, but it wasn’t enough as the team’s defense simply could not stop San Antonio as New York dropped their fifth straight game.

With Barrett out for an extended period of time due to a laceration on his finger and Brunson nursing a sore hip, Thursday’s performance could go a long way to seeing more minutes for Fournier while the Knicks look for more offense.

“Today I thought let me just stay ready just in case,” Fournier said. “Let’s not do anything crazy. Just treat today like I’m going to play and if I don’t, I don’t.”

Even Thibodeau was pleased with his performance although it was to be expected.

“It’s a credit to him,” he said of Fournier being prepared to play. “He’s a true pro and it’s not easy, and it’s not easy for Derrick [Rose] either, but that’s what being a professional is and that’s what the expectation is.”

Will we see Fournier off the bench again? It’s a possibility, but if Fournier can build off of Thursday’s game, he can find himself seeing more and more minutes for the Knicks or with another team.

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