Kemba Walker came to Boston on a mission Saturday night.
With several New York players in health and safety protocols, Walker and fellow ex-Celtic Evan Fournier both got the start for the Knicks in their first game in Boston since the C's parted ways with them this offseason.
Walker didn't let that opportunity go to waste. While Fournier led all scorers at TD Garden with 32 points on 13-of-24 shooting, Walker added a season-high 29 points on 8-of-20 shooting in his first game action since Nov. 26.
Walker, who was removed from the Knicks' rotation in late November and hadn't played in New York's last 10 games, clearly was playing with something to prove -- and clearly wasn't pleased about his lack of playing time to that point. When asked after the game if he wanted to stay with the Knicks, Walker responded:
"I hate it. I want to play. ... I don't know what the future holds, you know? I do feel like I have a lot to give still. I don't know. That's up to these guys."
The 31-year-old had been averaging just 11.7 points and 3.1 assists per game before head coach Tom Thibodeau benched him. The Knicks have a crowded backcourt with Derrick Rose, Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley on the roster, and Walker has lost some explosiveness after a knee injury that limited his effectiveness with Boston.
Still, it seems like Walker at least could be a spark plug off the bench for New York, and his effort in the Knicks' 114-107 loss proved he's still a very capable scorer.
"I know I should be playing, so no question. It feels great," Walker said when asked if it felt good to make a statement with his play. "But whatever situation I'm in, I'm gonna stay locked in, stay prepared. Whatever the team needs from me, I'll be there for them."
If there's anyone who understands Walker's frustration, it's Isaiah Thomas, who tweeted his support of his fellow ex-Celtics guard Saturday night.
Walker's next chance to prove himself will come Tuesday against the Detroit Pistons.