ORLANDO, Fla. — One week ago, center Mitchell Robinson blocked a Knicks rookie-record nine shots against the Magic at the Garden. Orlando coach Steve Clifford said he was on “my board” during preparations for the rematch.
On Sunday, Robinson got rejected by the referees. In a foul-plagued performance, Robinson looked a lot more like a project than a starting center, playing just 8:42 and going scoreless with no blocks and five fouls. Knicks coach David Fizdale started Enes Kanter for the second half.
Robinson picked up four fouls in the first half. He came in late in the third quarter and immediately got his fifth foul for reacting late on a driving Nikola Vucevic and was back to the pine.
“I guess it’s just part of being a rookie,’’ said Robinson, who has started since the season’s sixth game. “As a rookie, you’re not going to get foul [calls]. You got to play through it. I can’t help my team out if I’m on the bench. I’m a great shot-blocker and we could have used that today, but I got in foul trouble.’’
Their second-round steal struggled with fouls in the Las Vegas summer league in July but had avoided it for the most part at the season’s start.
“Just a step behind on NBA actions,’’ Fizdale said. “He’s reacting to the play instead of anticipating the play. That usually leads [to] a touch foul. It’s learning the NBA package and, ‘I know this play.’ Eventually he’ll start recognizing it.”