The smile grew on Mike Woodson’s face before the question about Mike Bibby had even finished being asked.
The Knicks' interim head coach has never wavered in how much he trusts the veteran point guard, who nailed a huge 3-pointer to give the Knicks a lead with 1:23 left and his team trying to fight off a first-round sweep to Miami.
“The guy’s been around a long time,” said Woodson, who coached Bibby for two seasons in Atlanta. “He’s still got the heart of steel, man, to make big shots. He’s still capable. He’s not as quick, as fast, as he used to be but he’s still capable of running a team and doing all the necessary things to help you win games. His shot was huge. It was a big 3 that put us up. I kind of expect that from him. He’s been around awhile so I’m comfortable with him.”
Woodson will need Bibby now more than ever after Baron Davis dislocated his right knee with 5:15 left in the third quarter. Bibby, who hit two 3-pointers and finished with 6 points and 5 boards, said that his thoughts were first with Davis but also acknowledged that he has played in big games before, most notably with the Sacramento Kings.
Bibby’s shot in the fourth quarter put New York ahead 84-81. The play started when Carmelo Anthony was double-teamed in the post. Anthony kicked the ball out to J.R. Smith, who then found Bibby open in the corner.
“That’s what I do,” Bibby said. “If everything leaves me, I’ll be able to shoot still. So I’m happy I made the shot but most of all I’m happy that we won.”
Injuries have crushed the Knicks back court. Jeremy Lin underwent surgery to repair a small chronic tear in his left meniscus on April 2. Iman Shumpert tore the ACL in his left knee in Game 1, in a play that was similar to Davis’ injury in that both players went down without being touched by a defender.
Davis crumbled to the court on a scary play in the third quarter and was carried out on a stretcher. Bibby played the remaining five minutes of the third and the entire fourth quarter. He is likely to play heavy minutes in Game 5 in Miami on Wednesday.
“It’s tough to see a player go down and we’ve had a number of them this year,” Woodson said. “It’s an important part of the game and you can’t control that part of it. I look at it from the positive standpoint in that, we have a group of guys that wear Knick uniforms that are hungry and somebody had to step up and make plays and I thought Mike Bibby was that guy tonight.”
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