Brandon Knight takes a another step in his comeback
In the second quarter of Monday’s win over the Utah Jazz, Rockets guard Chris Paul bounced a backwards pass between his legs to Brandon Knight, who knocked down a 3-pointer before giving Paul a high five on the way back up the court.
They were Knight’s only points of the game but they were also his first in the NBA since tearing the ACL in his left knee in March 2017 while with the Phoenix Suns.
“I’m just excited,” Knight said before Tuesday’s practice. “To be able to put my name in the stat book, in the scoring column, that definitely felt good after being out for so long. Once you’ve been out for so long you start to be thankful for the little things.”
Since making his return on Dec. 13 against the Los Angeles Lakers, Knight has also recorded two rebounds and an assist. His recovery is something that’s excited teammates, especially as the team extends its winning roll.
“I think he’s progressing,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s on the verge of getting some really good minutes. I thought his minutes were good, he’s playing hard as heck.”
For Paul, a player well familiar with injury woes, Knight’s return — and his first half bucket — were a welcome sign of improvement.
“Man, I’m so happy for B. Knight,” Paul said. “One thing that’s hard for anybody to go through is rehab. That’s harder than playing any day of the week, especially when miss that much time. For him to make that 3-pointer last night, you know I’ve seen him in there working.”
Knight said playing football as a kid growing up in Florida shaped his perspective on work ethic. It’s something he’s applied to his rehabilitation and recovery over the last year.
“Once you’ve been away from the game you don’t take anything for granted,” Knight said.
“If you’re going to do something, give 110%, so it’s been a part of me and just finding different motivations as I get older whether it be doubt, injury.”
Knight is still a long way from top form. But he continues to be patient as he — and the team — rebound from their struggles.
“It’s got a ways to go. I haven’t played in two years so (I’m) just trying to get that rhythm after sitting down for so long,” he said.
“The guys have locked in and everybody’s stepping their game up not just physically but mentally.”