Kristaps Porzingis assured everyone that the Knicks will find a way to win without Tim Hardaway Jr. in the lineup.
Porzingis was back in the lineup himself last night as he returned from an ankle injury. He notched 18 points to help the team break their losing skid in a 99-88 win over the Grizzlies.
The Knicks are happy their star forward is back on the court, but it is still unclear when their second-leading starter in Hardaway will return. Porzingis says no matter the case, the team will find ways to win with an easy next few games.
"We have a lot of winnable games ahead of us," Porzingis told The Post's Marc Berman. "Not to go too far ahead. We have to go game by game and see how we play without Tim. I'm sure we'll find ways to win games."
Porzingis had to only sit out two games, and even though he did admit some time off affected his shooting stroke as he went 8-for-19 from the field, it felt good to be back on the court.
"It felt great," he said. "I usually recover pretty quickly from things."
Recovering from a stress injury, like the one Hardaway has, was something Porzingis had when he was basically in Spain. He said it took him "a couple of weeks" with a stress fracture, but the Knicks have been vague with Hardaway saying he will miss more than two weeks for now.
Stress fractures can take about two months to heal completely, according to medical experts. So, the hope is Hardaway only has a stress reaction, which takes far less time to recover from. Either way, Porzingis knows the type of loss Hardaway is.
"It's not good for us at all," Porzingis said. "Other guys are going to have to step up and hopefully Timmy comes back as soon as possible but also he has to make sure he's 100 percent healthy before he comes back."
Porzingis worked hard to get back on the court in just a short span. He missed the game in Indiana due to constant treatment he was receiving in New York.
"I was just doing treatment three times a day," he said. "It was just intense, doing treatments all day long and trying to get back to the court for Wednesday and we made it happen."
As for Hardaway, he is on a "treatment and rehabilitation plan," and will be evaluated again in two weeks. He's allowed to work out in the weight
"In two weeks, we'll find out more, whether he's coming back sooner or later," head coach Jeff Hornacek said. "It's a game of basketball. Unfortunately for us it's one of our top guys. We got to pick Tim up. Hopefully he gets healthy quick."
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The Knicks are lucky here with the schedule coming up that they should be able to find ways to win without Tim Hardaway Jr. The issue will be when Christmas comes and into the January schedule when it gets increasingly more difficult. While Lance Thomas is taking over the starting spot, it really comes down to who will replace Hardaway's scoring ability.
Courtney Lee showed us last night, and has shown at times this season, that he can step up and drop 20 points when the Knicks need him. The other guy to step up and get some time at small forward will be Michael Beasley.
Your "favorite player's favorite player" has been an amazing quote machine, including when he called himself a "walking bucket." The Knicks have seen that at times, but now more than ever, they need Beasley to live up to his self-proclamations. He'll be needed more now at the three, and to be that scorer off the bench. It wouldn't even surprise me if he sees some starts at small forward if Hardaway Jr. is out for an extended period.
Thomas isn't a scorer. He's one of the best defenders on this team, and that's a big reason he is out there. He'll make an occasional bucket, but that's not his role exactly.
Hornacek is going to have to mix and match some of the rotations with his second-leading scorer out now. That might mean giving Joakim Noah some time, so Kyle O'Quinn can be the backup at power forward with Beasley backing up at small forward. That makes sense both on the offensive and defensive end. These guys need some rest, and it honestly makes zero sense for there to be guys active on the bench and not playing. With all the injuries this team has had, they need as many fresh bodies out there to give these guys a blow as much as possible, especially during this stretch without Hardaway Jr.
It's the coach's job to understand that and to adjust to the situation.