Tom Thibodeau opts for Knicks veterans over Elfrid Payton in Game 3

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Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson, Tom Thibodeau’s longtime trusted lieutenants with three NBA franchises, moved into the Knicks’ starting lineup Friday night in Game 3 in Atlanta.

It is Rose’s first playoff start since Game 6 of the 2015 second round for the Bulls against the Cavaliers.

After the veteran duo started the second half and helped lead the Knicks back from a 13-point halftime deficit two nights earlier in their series-evening Game 2 victory, Thibodeau went all in and finally benched Elfrid Payton, his starting point guard in name only for several weeks.

Payton had started each of the previous 65 games in which he had appeared this season, including the first two games of the series, but it’s never been a sillier designation after he played just eight minutes and five minutes, respectively in the first two games of the series.

Payton was benched for the final 43 minutes of the Knicks’ comeback win in Game 2 at the Garden, logging a whopping 39 minutes.

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