Dennis Smith Jr. was back in the Knicks lineup on Tuesday night against the Bulls, but it wasn't the return he hoped for.
Though it was his first game back since Oct. 26 after the passing of his stepmother, Smith saw 14 minutes of playing time by head coach David Fizdale. And that time on the court, it was apparent Smith hadn't played in a game recently.
He went 0-for-3 from the field while committing two turnovers. Smith did, however, dish out two assists and collected two steals on the night.
The most glaring number in the box score, though, was his minus-22 while on the court -- something Fizdale addressed post-game.
"I actually didn't think his minutes were as bad," he told The Post's Marc Berman. "I know his plus-minus might be what it says. That may not be the truth. Your plus-minus ia five-man. I thought he played with great pace, great intensity."
Getting back into the swing of things and being ready for NBA action is no easy task. The Knicks actually gave Smith extra time to get ready instead of playing him during the Mavericks game on Friday and Cavs contest on Sunday.
"My wind felt pretty good," Smith said. "My second win was pretty good. I have to make sure I take care of my body. My body isn't used to an NBA game after [two weeks]."
But Smith was struggling in his first three games before leaving to be with his family. He was only 1-for-11 from the field in his limited time on the floor, and with Elfrid Payton playing well at point guard, Fizdale didn't have him as often as last season.
Smith's next game comes against his former team in the Mavericks at The Garden on Thursday night. While all eyes will be on Kristaps Porzingis' return to MSG for the first time since he was traded away, this could be the perfect opportunity for Smith to make the best of his minutes to get a little revenge.
At the end of the day, though, he's just happy to be playing the game after going through these tough couple of weeks.
"I'm trying to add speed to the game," he said. "I know my rhythm is going to come back, [but] it's going to take time. I'm grateful to be playing."