Alec Burks to return as Knicks battle Warriors

Alec Burks hopes to pick up where he left off three weeks ago when he likely will return to the New York Knicks’ lineup for their game Thursday night against one of his former teams, the Golden State Warriors, in San Francisco.

Both clubs are riding two-game winning streaks as they meet for the first time since December 2019, a game the Knicks won on the road in overtime.

After signing on as a free agent in the offseason, Burks burst out of the gates for the Knicks, scoring 22 points off the bench in each of his first two games.

He was even better in his third outing, having hit four of five 3-pointers and put up 18 points before suffering a sprained left ankle in the second half against Milwaukee. That was on Dec. 27, and he hasn’t played since.

After practice Wednesday, Burks insisted it was just coincidental that he’d be returning against the Warriors, for whom he was averaging a career-best 16.1 points in 48 games last season before getting dealt to Philadelphia.

“I’m just glad to be playing,” he claimed. “It’s a team I used to play for. I still got a great relationship (there), a great organization. But I’m just excited to play against anybody.”

Burks enters the game having averaged 20.7 points in his three games with the Knicks. He has shot 53.1 percent from the field, made 10 of his 15 3-point attempts (66.7 percent) and converted 18 of his 20 free throws (90.0 percent).

The Knicks did just fine without him their last two games, crushing Boston 105-75 before holding off Orlando 91-84. Julius Randle led the way against the Celtics with 20 points, one more than R.J. Barrett, while Barrett had 22 against the Magic, one more than Randle.

The Knicks have had the last two days off, not counting Wednesday’s practice in San Francisco. Not long thereafter, the Warriors took the same court to host the San Antonio Spurs in the front half of a back-to-back.

What the Knicks saw on television from their San Francisco hotel rooms was an unselfish Warriors display of 31 assists for the second consecutive game.

The beneficiary of six of the point-blank connections was rookie James Wiseman, who converted each into a dunk. He added a seventh following an offensive rebound, padding his season-best 20-point total.

Stephen Curry had a game-high seven assists to complement a game-high 26 points, while Draymond Green added six assists, including a pair to Wiseman.

“James knows where to be with the timing of the lobs,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr praised after the win. “Just had a good flow to our offense and James is learning. He knows where to be.”

The well-rested Knicks will see the Warriors on the second night of a back-to-back, but that didn’t bother Golden State the only previous time they experienced the consecutive-night scheduling this season.

On that occasion, also getting both games at home, they dispatched of Portland by 15 points on the first night and then Sacramento by 31 on the next.

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