David Fizdale didn‚Äôt think Markieff Morris had it right when he called Knicks center Mitchell Robinson ‚Äúa stupid-ass rookie‚Äô‚Äô after the Wizards forward was ejected in the preseason opener Monday in Washington.
The Knicks coach defended Robinson, whom Morris claimed said something that crossed the line when they were alongside each other during free throws. Morris went on a tirade that resulted in two technical fouls and an ejection while Robinson wore a smirk the whole time.
‚ÄúHe can say what he wants to say,‚Äô‚Äô Fizdale said Wednesday before the Knicks faced the Nets at Barclays Center. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm always going to protect my guy. I was proud the way my guy handled it. I like the fact he didn‚Äôt back down. But I felt like he was the one who kept his composure ‚ÄĒ the one who showed the maturity. Using the word stupid for him, I don‚Äôt think was fair.‚ÄĚ
Robinson was not available for comment before the game. Fizdale went with the same starting lineup against the Nets as he did in the Knicks‚Äô 124-121 overtime victory over the Wizards: Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. in the backcourt with Kevin Knox, Lance Thomas and Enes Kanter up-front.
Fizdale said he may tinker with the lineup for the third game Friday against New Orleans.
‚ÄúI‚Äôll try it one more game and see how that goes and mix things up the next game,‚Äô‚Äô said Fizdale.
In Washington, Fizdale used a different starting unit for the second half headed by Frank Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay in the backcourt and Robinson, Knox and Mario Hezonja up front. Knox was the lone starter to begin the third quarter.
‚ÄúFrank still has a chance to start,‚Äô‚Äô Fizdale said.
Against the Nets, Fizdale said he would use the same second-half lineup that started the contest as he looks to build up the minutes of the starting five. Knox led the club with 26 minutes against Washington.
‚ÄúYou‚Äôll see Kevin get fast-tracked the most, Mitchell will be right behind him and Frank creeping behind him,‚Äô‚Äô Fizdale said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôll build them up as we go. I got a different philosophy than most teams. Most teams like to tail it off at the end and give guys a break. I actually like to build up at the end.‚ÄĚ
Going against his former Washington teammate, John Wall, in the opener, Burke wasn‚Äôt his usual aggressive self while Emmanuel Mudiay and Ntilikina headed the second-half unit that started the third quarter on a 11-0 run. The point-guard battle is real, even if Fizdale seems to like Ntilikina off the ball.
‚ÄúThey did a great job starting the second half,‚Äô‚Äô Fizdale said. ‚ÄúNothing is set in stone. I‚Äôm just going to build the main guys up that I know will be in the rotation and figure out the starting lineup at the end.‚Äô‚Äô