Nerlens Noel’s status uncertain in potential Knicks blow

Nerlens Noel limped off with 6 minutes, 43 seconds left Sunday after committing a foul on Young.

The only Knicks defender able to stop Trae Young recently has been third-string center Novel Pelle.

And he may be on call with the ankle injury to starting center Nerlens Noel.

Noel limped off with 6:43 left Sunday after committing a foul on Young. He landed funny, winced and hobbled off the court as Taj Gibson finished up. Noel’s status for Wednesday’s Game 2 is uncertain.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said Nerlens only participated in a little bit of Monday’s practice. “He tweaked his ankle, so we’ll see where he is [Tuesday],’’ Thibodeau said.

According to a source, if Game 2 were Tuesday, Noel’s status would be highly questionable. But with an extra day off, the Knicks believe he’ll try it out. After all, it’s the playoffs and Noel is playing for a contract.

However, the Knicks signed Pelle late in the season for a reason. He’s a big body and a natural shot-blocker. Oh, and Pelle put Young out of the game in the final regular-season meeting in April.

Nerlen Noel tries to block a shot during the Knicks’ loss to the Hawks on Sunday.

In April, Young was scorching the Knicks before he went up for a floater with Pelle contesting. They got entangled, Young sprained his ankle, didn’t return and the Knicks rallied from nine points down to win.

In Game 1, the Knicks undersized center tandem of Noel and Gibson was serviceable — combining for 11 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Hawks center Clint Capela was active but hardly dominant (nine points, 13 rebounds, two blocks).

With Julius Randle struggling, Thibodeau gave rookie lottery pick Obi Toppin an eight-minute look in the second quarter Sunday, and his presence was a boost as the Knicks rallied. The coaching staff has mulled whether to reduce Toppin’s minutes in the playoffs for defensive purposes, but he was active, hit a 3-pointer and a driving dunk with the Garden fans chanting his name.

“It was amazing, we have amazing fans and it was super loud and we felt the floor shaking,’’ said Toppin, who played 11 minutes.

The Knicks 3-point defense did a solid job against Atlanta, which shot 35.3 percent. But Bogdan Bogdanovic hurt the Knicks late going 3-for-4 from deep in the fourth quarter.

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Marc Berman

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