Willy Hernangomez, who has been starting at center for the Knicks with Joakim Noah out, had another good game during Thursday night's loss to the Cavaliers.
Hernangomez had 11 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks in 27 minutes.
He turned the ball over just once and committed three personal fouls.
The 22-year-old Hernangomez is averaging 6.7 points and 6.0 rebounds in 50 games during what is his first season with the Knicks.
The longer Noah remains sidelined, the longer Hernangomez has to cement his role as the starting center of this Knicks squad. The youngster simply isn't keeping Noah's seat warm: he's taking it from him. The more this goes on, the more it becomes a reality rather than a concept.
Even as an NBA rookie, Hernangomez has been known not to back away from notable challenges against some formidable big league centers. His matchups against Dwight Howard and other players of the like this season is solid proof. Playing with a slew of offensive juggernauts, the Cavaliers' Tristan Thompson is as physical as they come. He plays his role to perfection and absolutely represented a tough matchup for Hernangomez down low. He's a very physical player.
Nevertheless, the Knicks' suddenly budding star went at his opponent pretty well. The two exchanged both physical and verbal jabs and barbs throughout the contest, but the Cavaliers' big man appeared to respect his challenger.
Though Thompson had an even better stat line than Hernangomez and his team won the game, there was a silver lining for Hernangomez and the Knicks. They out-rebounded the defending champions, 49-45, and Hernangomez seemed to hold his own. It's difficult to think Noah would have been able to do the same thing. Momentum is in the youngster's favor.