It wasn't a Merry Christmas for Knicks PG Frank Ntilikina on Tuesday, as he didn't see the court in the team's loss to the Bucks.
With his mother, Jacqueline, in attendance after flying from France to New York, Ntilikina was a DNP for the fourth time this season. He has had three other games of this status earlier this month, with head coach David Fizdale choosing to go with Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke instead.
And it looked like that came as a surprise to Ntilikina.
"Did I know that I would not play today?" Ntilikina told The Post's Marc Berman, who noted he said it with "an edge." "Coach makes his decision during the game. So you don't know. You know that, right?"
Fizdale justified his decision to keep Ntilikina on the pine, saying Burke needed to get some more minutes after being a DNP the past two contests as the rust is clearly showing after his knee injury. It didn't help much, though, as he shot 1-for-7 for just two points on the day. Mudiay also struggled, going 5-for-14.
But Ntilikina hasn't been any better than his teammates, either. He is averaging just 6.3 points per game in his sophomore season, and there has been speculation that sitting Ntilikina hints that the Knicks may want to move on with him in regards to their future rebuilding plans.
But Fizdale shot that notion down, saying Ntilikina is an important piece on his squad.
"Frank is very important to us, and we just have to find a way to just get that confidence back for him," he said.
The only thing Ntilikina can do to silence those rumors is play like he did when Fizdale finally brought him back after his three DNP games in the past. But Ntilikina doesn't know how long this stint will be.
"I don't know how long it will be [this time]," Ntilikina said. "I can't predict each every game in the future. One thing I can do is get ready for each and every one -- which I will do. Practice hard, get ready physicaly and mentally for the next game."
If dealing with this situation isn't frustrating Ntilikina mentally to begin with, there was also news of the terrorist attack in his hometown of Strasbourg, France back on Dec. 11. A gunman, who pledged his allegiance to ISIS, shot and killed five people in a Christmas market in Strasbourg, and Ntilikina said he was frantic in calling his friends and family to make sure they weren't involved.
"I was really worried," he said. "I was watching this on my phone trying to follow what was happening, calling all my family and friends. Thankfully, I had news from everyone. It's something that touches your life."
So December hasn't been a fun month for Ntilikina, but that isn't stopping him from sustaining his confidence despite all the adversity. Whenever he gets back on the court, just like last time, he'll be ready.
"I've got to get more confidence when I'm on the court," he said. "It will get better."