BOSTON -- Cole Aldrich played in 120 NBA games before making his first start Wednesday night.
A shorthanded New York Knicks squad missing their top four big men, including Tyson Chandler (out for personal reasons) and Amar'e Stoudemire (knee recovery) caused head coach Mike Woodson to give Aldrich the long-awaited opportunity.
The wait was worth it for the fourth-year center, as Aldrich scored a career-high 12 points and added 10 rebounds and three blocks in 25 minutes. His inspired effort led to Woodson awarding the big man the game ball after the team’s fifth straight win.
“It feels good [to see Aldrich get the game ball],” Anthony acknowledged after the game. “We know how much work guys like that put in, guys like Cole put in. We’re with him every day, we know how hard he works, and for him to have this opportunity tonight and be a part of our team’s success tonight is a good thing.”
“I’m just happy for him,” Woodson said. “Because he’s patiently waited all season, never once complained, just went about his business. It paid off for him. We reaped the dividends from him tonight, based on his play.”
Aldrich, who had played an average of only 4.5 minutes in 31 games with the Knicks, may have also earned himself additional minutes in Woodson’s rotation over the remainder of the season. The fourth-year center’s rebounding particularly stood out to the coach.
“There are certain guys in our league that have an instinct to rebound the ball,” Woodson said. “[Aldrich] can rebound out of his space, in his space, takes up space and he has great hands. He finishes pretty well around the rim.”
“I know my job,” Aldrich continued, “And that’s just to come in and rebound the ball, block shots, and just run the floor and finish when given the opportunity to.”
With no clear indication of when Chandler will return to the team, Aldrich’s next big chance should come as soon as Saturday. Whenever it does come, the center will be ready.
“It’s physically tough and mentally tough, but that’s what you’ve got to do as a professional,” Aldrich said. “It’s just staying ready and just coming whenever your name is called whether it’s in the middle of the game or, like today, I started -- just coming out and playing and trying to find a way to get a win.”
Knicks' hot 3-point shooting continues: The Knicks finished a red-hot 9-of-10 from 3-point range in the first half, before cooling off in the second half to finish the game 11-of-19 from deep. Over New York’s past five contests, the team has made an impressive 61-of-140 shot attempts (43.5 percent) from beyond the arc, a league-best over that span.