NEW YORK — We’re reduction than dual months into a season, yet a New York Knicks already are confronting what feels like a pivotal widen of a schedule: a few weeks yet Tim Hardaway Jr.
Hardaway is out for a subsequent dual weeks (at least) due to a highlight ailment in his left shin. He will be evaluated on Dec. 19, yet there’s a possibility that he could be sidelined good over that initial evaluation. If Hardaway has a highlight fracture, he’d be out for a slightest a month. If there’s no fracture, he could lapse shortly after that two-week evaluation.
At a unequivocally least, a Knicks will have to figure out how to flower yet their No. 2 scorer for a subsequent 6 games.
If Wednesday’s diversion opposite a Memphis Grizzlies was any indication, it competence not be that difficult.
Nearly each lineup change compared with Hardaway’s deficiency worked out good for New York opposite Memphis.
Courtney Lee, stuffing in during sharpened guard, had a team-high 24 points. Lance Thomas, in a starting lineup during tiny brazen in Hardaway’s absence, helped a Knicks extent Memphis to 41 percent shooting.
The Knicks used a multiple of round transformation and plain group invulnerability — something they’d used during a surprisingly clever start to a deteriorate — to overcome Memphis after a delayed start. It’s a regulation that they’ll substantially have to rest on during Hardaway’s absence.
“We know we can’t outscore teams during this point. We need to play unequivocally good invulnerability and get a points,” manager Jeff Hornacek said.
It competence sound a bit hyperbolic, yet it’s not a widen to contend that how a Knicks respond during Hardaway’s deficiency could conclude their season. If New York (12-12) sputters with Hardaway out, group boss Steve Mills and ubiquitous manager Scott Perry competence select to unpack veterans during a trade deadline with an eye toward a draft. (On that front, hostile teams continue to uncover seductiveness in Lee, per joining sources.)
But if a Knicks can step H2O during Hardaway’s deficiency — and sojourn in playoff row into late Jan — maybe Mills and Perry demeanour to accelerate a register during a Feb. 8 trade deadline and make a pull for a postseason.
All of this, of course, underscores only how critical Hardaway has been for New York. After a delayed start, he determined himself as one of a team’s many prolific players. The 25-year-old averaged 17.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per diversion before his injury, creation many forget about a slack-jawed greeting to his $71 million agreement over a summer.
“There’s a reason when Steve Mills talked about removing Tim [over a summer],” Hornacek pronounced recently.
Now Hornacek and a coaching staff will have to figure out how to make adult for Hardaway’s scoring and playmaking for a foreseeable future.
Courtney Lee scores 12 points in a second quarter, traffic a take for a layup and a purchase 3-pointer to tie New York with Memphis before halftime.
If (very) new story is any indication, Lee seems to be adult for a challenge.
In his past 5 games, he is averaging 16.4 points per diversion on 58 percent shooting, including 54 percent from over a arc. Last week, Lee had a elementary reason for his new descent surge.
“We’re not using a triangle,” Lee said. “We’re using a opposite offense that’s some-more fast-paced, and it’s some-more suitable for my character of play.”
No matter what offense a Knicks run, Lee total to continue to get copiousness of opportunities to measure with Hardaway out. Hornacek pronounced he wanted Lee to fire 15 or 16 shots per night with Hardaway sidelined, a 50 percent boost from Lee’s normal during a moment.
“I improved comfortable my arm up,” Lee joked after Wednesday’s win.
Of course, a Knicks also will rest some-more heavily on Porzingis. The third-year large male was putting adult All-NBA numbers early in a season, yet had come behind to earth some-more recently. Hardaway’s damage gives Porzingis a possibility to lift a Knicks during a pivotal widen (and, as a byproduct, accelerate his resume for a intensity All-Star invite).
Porzingis, though, doesn’t indispensably see it that way.
“I’m always perplexing to be aggressive, yet we consider we don’t need to overdo things and do too much,” he said. “I’m only going to play my game.”
No matter how a Knicks proceed things on offense with Hardaway out — some-more shots for Porzingis, Lee or someone else — it’s transparent that they’re in a midst of a severe widen of a season. It’s one that could establish either they’re personification for a playoff mark in Apr — or for pingpong balls.