A not-so-rusty Hardaway made his long-anticipated return Friday, coming off the bench for 16 factors on 6 of 13 capturing, however Kristaps Porzingis was nonetheless absent. Porzingis registered one other tough 17-point outing to begin the season’s second half.
The Knicks (19-23) misplaced 118-108 to the Timberwolves at Goal Heart, dropping their ninth sport in 11 outings. They fell a season-worst 4 video games underneath .500 at 19-23 and are actually Four-15 on the street.
Karl-Anthony Cities, the No. 1 decide within the 2015 draft, confirmed why as he buried the Knicks with a close to triple-double — 23 factors, 14 rebounds and 9 assists — because the Timberwolves poured it on within the second half.
Nonetheless, coach Jeff Hornacek sang a optimistic tune, believing this would be the begin of a second-half cost.
“That’s what I advised the blokes — we’re not far off,” Hornacek stated. “Tim was again tonight. At the least we acquired 3s right now and unfold the courtroom. Our guys can’t get down. These final 5 video games we’ve performed fairly respectable on the street. We acquired to search out one other stage of toughness, going after balls. After we get that stage, we’ll begin successful these.’’
Cities, the Metuchen, N.J., product, shot 9 of 15 from the sector, whereas the capturing woes continued for Porzingis (the fourth decide in 2015), even with Hardaway again to unfold the courtroom. Porzingis shot 6 of 19 for 17 factors and grabbed 10 rebounds, sprinkling in three turnovers the Timberwolves transformed into fastbreak factors.
Porzingis entered the evening having shot simply 39.9 p.c in his previous 16 video games.
“We’re not too far off,’’ Porzingis stated. “We’re in a nasty second proper now. However we’re going to get out of it.’’
The Knicks have one dwelling sport — Sunday in opposition to the Pelicans — earlier than a seven-game street journey. Tom Thibodeau’s Timberwolves (28-16) are definitively headed upward, notching their 11th win in 14 video games.
Thibodeau despatched double-teams towards Porzingis every time he put the ball on the deck and the Knicks star appeared to overdribble. The 7-foot-Three Latvian stated groups are dishonest off the Knicks’ level guards — Jarrett Jack and cold-shooting rookie Frank Ntilikina (two factors, three turnovers). Wolves guards Jeff Teague and Jimmy Butler mixed for 5 steals.
“Guys are already serving to no matter I do,’’ Porzingis stated. “I’ve to watch out after I drive. There’s all the time assist coming. They’re sagging off of Frank or Jarrett slightly. I’ve to be careful for the guards once they assist. I flip my again, there’s somebody coming. I’ve to be smarter in these conditions.’’
Hornacek stated beforehand he hoped Hardaway would unfold the ground higher for Porzingis to get out of his funk. And there was one play within the second half on which Hardaway drove and fed Porzingis for a catch-and-shoot Three-pointer.
However finally the Knicks — and Porzingis — dedicated too many turnovers (16) and gave up 16 offensive rebounds.
“In all probability three, 4 instances, he dribbled one too many,’’ Hornacek stated. “You need to take one or two dribbles. If it’s not there, you bought to anticipate any person’s coming. Good veteran crew like these guys, they know the timing. They’re not coming late. They’re proper there.’’
Knicks super-sub Michael Beasley, who performed with Minnesota from 2010-12, already noticed a lower in his minutes, however not in his manufacturing. He scored 13 factors in 16 minutes, making 6 of eight baskets with three assists.
After the Knicks led 57-55 at halftime, the Timberwolves sprinted to a 14-Four run out of the gate within the second half to grab the benefit as Cities took management. The Knicks nonetheless trailed by only one getting into the fourth quarter earlier than Minnesota owned the interval and completed capturing 51.6 p.c.
“The temper we’ve now could be based mostly off of these shut, powerful losses — 3 times to Chicago, Detroit and Miami on the street,” Porzingis stated. “These are powerful ones to lose. However we’re proper there.’’
The Knicks managed to play the primary half with out making an attempt a free throw. It was the primary time since 2003 the Knicks didn’t shoot a free throw within the first half. It wasn’t till 1:52 left within the third when the Knicks went to the road.
“We weren’t in a position to get to the basket, however I don’t assume it was the offense — in all probability extra our protection [that lost the game],” Hornacek stated.