With the Knicks remaining cautious after he soared over his minutes limit in Sunday’s overtime loss to New Orleans, Tim Hardaway Jr. sat out Monday’s second leg of a back-to-back against the Nets.
After playing 25 minutes in his return Friday in Minnesota and an extended 33 minutes in the overtime loss against the Pelicans on Sunday, Hardaway was rendered inactive for the MLK Day battle in Brooklyn by Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek.
Hardaway is coming off the bench and on a minutes restriction, in the mid-20s, after returning from a stress reaction in his lower left leg. He scored 25 points but also was involved in a late collision with Anthony Davis on Sunday. Hornacek said he wasn’t injured on the play.
“Talking to management, he probably played a little more minutes than we wanted him to,’’ Hornacek said. “No setback. We want to gradually get him up. Unfortunately the game went into overtime. We ended up playing him a few extra minutes.”
The Knicks play in Memphis on Wednesday, and there’s a chance he would resume as a starter for his third game back after missing six weeks.
“Quite possibly we’ll do that,” Hornacek said.
The return plan wasn’t set to definitively keep Hardaway from playing both ends of back-to-backs. If he had limited minutes the first night, according to the team’s plan, then they would consider playing him the next night. But the Pelicans’ game got out of hand after the Knicks blew a 19-point lead.
“We don’t want to take any chance of overdoing it too early,” Hornacek said.
Hardaway appeared to land on his shoulder after colliding with Davis. On another play Hardaway may have taken a bad step, as he limped briefly. The Knicks coach said the Davis collision was a non-factor. Hardaway Jr. was not made available for comment before facing the Nets.
“Tim’s tough,’’ Hornacek said. “He partially landed on his head, and his head looks fine.”
With a technical foul shot in the third quarter, Courtney Lee tied the franchise record for consecutive free throws made with 44.
Lee had gone three straight games without taking a free throw. He is now tied with Chris Duhon , who set the mark in 2009.
Willy Hernangomez, after not playing for three straight games following Hornacek’s edict that the club would try to use three centers, got a meaningful six-minute look in the first half. That cut into Enes Kanter’s time. The Knicks starting center played just nine minutes.