Night two of the NBA season came through strong, delivering a double-overtime thriller where the New York Knicks bested the Boston Celtics, 138-134, in front of the home crowd at Madison Square Garden. This night was supposed to be about the return of NYC’s own Kemba Walker, but by the end of the night, it was about a journeyman coming up big when his new team needed him most.
Evan Fournier stole the show in the overtime sessions, playing like a star alongside Julius Randle, as the two combined for 67 points. Fournier looked like more than just another role player against his former team, shooting 6 of 13 from behind the arc for 32 points. Forget about his hair, homie can ball. And he and Randle balled so out of control that they became the first pair of Knicks players to both score 30 points in a season opener in franchise history.
Fournier’s 32-point outburst is a career-high for the Frenchman, who has never averaged 20 points a season in his NBA career. Year 10 is off to a hot start (I know, it’s just one game) for Fournier, who looks like he’s ready to become a primary scoring option for the Knicks this year.
The highest season average Fournier posted was 18.5 ppg a couple of years ago for the Orlando Magic. But everyone knows it doesn’t count when you do it in Orlando. Now he’s on a team that actually has a chance to build on what they started last year. If Fournier can be the second- or even third-consistent scoring option, the Knicks should be able to hang with most teams in the East and maybe even give the big dogs (Milwaukee, Brooklyn) a run for their money some nights.
Fournier may have gotten a raw deal from the developers of NBA Live Mobile ‘22, with a player model that looked nothing like him, but he got a good deal from the Knicks, who signed him to a four-year, $78 million contract — and he showed why last night. You can never have too many shooters on the perimeter in 2021, and Fournier is a career 38 percent shooter from three-point range. He should continue to be an excellent fit in New York if he can stay consistent. Night one went a long way for Fournier in winning the hearts of one of the most demanding fan bases in the NBA.
These Knicks don’t need Fournier to be the lead, that role is currently occupied by Randle, but if he continues to get buckets and drops a 30-piece McNuggets combo every now and again, then the Garden should be hopping come April and May.