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Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina ruled out for remainder of game vs. Celtics with upper back soreness

Frank Ntilikina, Kemba Walker, Knicks, Celtics

New York Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina has been ruled out for the remainder of Sunday’s game against the Boston Celtics due to upper back soreness, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo! Sports.

Ntilikina played just seven minutes and finished the game with three points and one assist.

The 21-year-old is firmly established as the Knicks starter at the point guard position, although he does more for New York on the defensive end of the floor than he does as a playmaker.

Ntilikina was averaging 6.7 points, 3.6 assists and 2.3 rebounds through his first 18 games. He has improved to close to 33 percent from beyond the arc, but he is still shooting under 39 percent from the field. In spite of those numbers, however, Ntilikina was running a career-high in terms of true shooting (.471), which at least speaks to his growth as an offensive player.

Knicks head coach David Fizdale praised Ntilikina in November for his professionalism at such a young age. He even ran numerous pick-and-roll plays for Ntilikina during Friday night’s game against the Phladelphia 76ers.

Ntilikina has long faced criticism after being drafted with the eighth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, ahead of the likes of Donovan Mitchell, John Collins and Kyle Kuzma.

But some fans have also been calling for more of Frank, with the Knicks lacking a true point guard and needing more investment in some of their young players.

There is no indication that Ntilikina’s soreness is the result of other injuries, but the Knicks will monitor his status moving forward.