Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau praises Mitchell Robinson’s play vs. Pistons: ‘That’s a monster game’

Mitchell Robinson dunking on Pistons’ guy head white jersey

With the current state of COVID-19 cases in the NBA, many teams have had their depth decimated, and the Knicks are no exception. Playing without key players like RJ Barrett, Derrick Rose, Immanuel Quickley, and Obi Toppin among others, the Knicks scrapped together a gritty 105-91 win over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night.

Many players stepped up in the win, including Julius Randle, Evan Fournier, and Kemba Walker, but perhaps the biggest performance came from Mitchell Robinson, who had his best game of the season with 17 points, 14 rebounds, and four blocks in 25 minutes off the bench.

“I was feeding off the energy that was just all around us,” Robinson said.

“There’s a lot of moving parts right now,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said afterwards. “You can’t say enough about what Mitch did. That’s his best game, right there. That’s a monster game. Big play after big play.”

Robinson brought his patented energy and glass-cleaning to the floor, as he pulled in six offensive rebounds while providing tremendous rim protection on the defensive side.

“The offensive rebounding is huge, the pressure on the rim is huge,” said Thibodeau. “I thought Kemba found him on the lob and that sort of gets (Kemba) going too, and then protecting the rim, he and Nerlens [Noel] give us elite rim protection. Right now that’s how we have to play. We have to find a way to win.”

The big question all season long for Robinson has been his durability and conditioning, as the 23-year-old continues to recover from March surgery on his right foot.

When he first made his way back to the court earlier this season, Robinson clearly had some issues getting up and down the court, but he’s starting to get more and more comfortable, and his head coach credits all the hard work the big man has been doing behind the scenes.

“He was out for a very long period of time. I think he’s made a conscious effort to get into better shape,” Thibodeau said. “He’s putting extra work in, and he’s finding his rhythm.

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“A lot of this, for a big guy like that, it’s timing, rhythm, conditioning, it’s all of the above, and you’re asking him to be the anchor of the defense – communicate, multiple effort plays, cover up for mistakes, and you can’t do that unless you’re in great shape, so it’s something that we have to continue to work on but he’s gifted in a lot of ways that can make your defense really good.”

Added Robinson: “We’re down some guys right now, so you kind of have to do a little extra.”

“I felt like I was in better shape, too. Like I was actually running a little more than usual. I think we’re heading in the right direction.”

Robinson talks team meeting

When Robinson was interviewed by MSG Network on the court immediately following the win, he mentioned how “everything just changed” following a team meeting.

In the postgame interview room, Robinson was asked to follow up and provide more insight on that team meeting, which he said happened “a few days.”

“We were just sitting in the locker room talking about like what we need to do, stuff like that,” he said. “It wasn’t really like an ‘Alright, door closed’ team meeting. It was more just like we were all in there just talking. We’re trying to change this thing around before the break, really.”


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