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Sunday, December 25, 2011
Bibby out; Shumpert is backup PG

By Ian Begley

New York Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert will serve as the Knicks' backup point guard in their season-opener against the Boston Celtics on Sunday afternoon.

Shumpert will replace Mike Bibby. Bibby suffered a back injury in the Knicks' preseason finale on Wednesday. Bibby sat out of practice on Friday and participated on a limited basis on Saturday due to lingering pain from back spasms.

He will dress for the season-opener but isn't likely to see the floor.

"He'll be there and if I can avoid it he won't play," coach Mike D'Antoni said on Sunday morning.

Shumpert has impressed his teammates and coaches with an aggressive approach during training camp. He will backup starter Toney Douglas on Sunday.

The Knicks' first-round draft pick averaged 11.5 points in 28 minutes per game in the preseason.

"He has very good instincts and physical ability on defense," D'Antoni said. "For a rookie, that's important. Put him in the game, and he will not hurt us. As a matter of fact, he'll be a plus on the defensive end. And for us, that's good."

In other injury news, reserve guard/forward Bill Walker, who has been hindered during training camp by a left groin injury, will play. Jared Jeffries, who has been dealing with a right calf injury, will also suit up.

D'Antoni said 6-10 shooter Steve Novak, signed by the Knicks on Wednesday night, is also available against the Celtics.

"[Novak brings] something that we don't have and that's an unbelievable shooter," the coach said.

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