NEW ORLEANS — Starting center Mitchell Robinson helped the Knicks beat the Bulls with a strong game Thursday, which included helping out against DeMar DeRozan on a last-second airball.
As it turns out, Robinson did a lot more damage. It was revealed Friday that Robinson’s flagrant foul on the Bulls young power forward Patrick Williams resulted in a left-wrist dislocation. Williams, 20, will undergo surgery that reportedly will put an end to his regular season.
It’s a blow to the Bulls, who stood to be a force in the Eastern Conference, bidding to pass the Knicks.
Robinson has received flak on social media for a dirty play. With Williams driving baseline, Robinson came over to block his driving attempt. Robinson didn’t come close and got Williams in the face. Williams tumbled and landed on his wrist.
In the 1990s, that would have been no more than a good hard foul on an attacking player. Nowadays, it’s a flagrant, with some feeling Robinson, who was assessed a flagrant 1, should be suspended.
The counter-argument is Williams’ injury is the price you pay when you go hard to the rim, and Robinson is always going to be there.
“I’ve been reading stuff,’’ Robinson said. “I’m like, some people are making it seem like something that it’s not. That’s what they are going to do. So it’s like, what can you do about it?”
Asked if he felt bad for Williams, who was an unsung key piece to the resurgent Bulls, Robinson said: “Yeah it is. I went down myself. I know the pain. I know how it is. I feel what they feel. I went through two injuries back to back. It’s the worst feeling in the world.’’
Indeed, Robinson can only feel good to be back in New Orleans, where he rehabbed all offseason after missing a good chunk of last season — first with a broken hand, then a broken foot.
“It’s amazing playing at home before friends and family,’’ said Robinson, who grew up near the city. “It’s my home. Nothing better than home.’’
New Orleans could become a future destination for Robinson if he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Robinson said a contract extension is not close to being hashed out.
“The season just started,’’ Robinson said. “I’m not worried about that If I stay healthy and continue to play hard.’’
The Knicks were expected to finally trot out backup center Nerlens Noel for Saturday’s game, but he still is being ruled out.
Future insurance in case Robinson walks, Noel missed all of the preseason and now the first six regular season games with an injury the team is vaguely calling a sore knee. In his most recent interview, Noel said it was also a hamstring injury.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau said Noel was ready to play the preseason finale, but suffered a setback. Noel stayed relatively healthy last season in his contract year. Now he’s on a new 3-year, $32 million pact.
The Knicks are lucky Robinson has stayed right, though he has survived two scares on which he left the game limping. In Chicago, Robinson was on the deck in obvious pain after taking a bad step on defense and splitting his shoe.
Robinson revealed he has extra material in the shoe to protect his vulnerable foot.
“My foot is all right,’’ Robinsons said. “I just busted out my shoe. That’s the third pair that did that. It’s because I’m coming back from my own foot injury. I have special things that are in my shoes. It was just cutting through.’’
The added weight gain, Robinson says, is already helping his low-post defense against big centers, such as the 76ers’ Joel Embiid and the Bulls’ Nikola Vucevic.
“I feel my weight has helped tremendously,’’ Robinson said. “The last two years they would’ve bumped me I would’ve jumped three feet away. Now it’s different. I’m not really bugging like that.’’