Emmanuel Mudiay ‘surprised’ he was benched for majority of Knicks’ loss to Timberwolves

Emmanuel Mudiay was more the forgotten man on Friday as opposed to being the so-called point guard of the future for the Knicks. Mudiay was benched five minutes into the Knicks’ 108-104 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night as Jeff Hornacek went with the backcourt combination of rookie Frank Ntilikina and Trey Burke to begin the second half over Mudiay and Courtney Lee. “I thought they did a great job,” Hornacek said. “They have a good chemistry going. So in the second half I thought to roll with them.” The Knicks were trailing 15-7 when Mudiay was replaced for good. They eventually trailed 26-11 in the first quarter. Mudiay said he was “surprised” that he never returned to the game but added “I’m not going to be a sore loser about it.” Mudiay has been bothered by a sore ankle but claims his ankle wasn’t a problem on Friday. He did report feeling “under the weather.” The Knicks acquired the point guard from Denver last month in a three-team trade that included the Knicks shipping Doug McDermott to the Dallas Mavericks. A former lottery pick, Mudiay has mostly struggled in his 17-game trial with the Knicks. He has 32 turnovers and just 26 assists and 60 field goals since joining the Knicks. The trade was low risk since McDermott wasn’t a regular in the rotation. However, Mudiay’s arrival seemed to momentarily unsettle Ntilikina, who was also dealing with the front office promoting Burke from the G-League. General manager Scott Perry has been hoping that Mudiay, who lost his starting job to Jamal Murray in Denver, would regain his form and confidence. Instead, Mudiay’s play creates more questions than answers for a Knicks franchise heading into the offseason. The Knicks have a first round pick and will likely select ninth overall. There is a possibility that Oklahoma point guard Trae Young will be available between the Continue Reading

Tim Hardaway’s 39 points go to waste as Knicks lose to Timberwolves, 108-104

For once, Tom Thibodeau wasn’t the most stressed-out coach on the Minnesota Timberwolves bench.  That honor on Friday belonged to Rick Brunson, the former Knicks back-up guard whose son Jalen was leading Villanova to a come-from-behind victory over West Virginia while the Timberwolves were rallying in the second half to win a crucial game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.  “I was getting the updates on my watch and at one point I was thinking, ‘we’re going 0-2 tonight,” Brunson said following Minnesota’s 108-104 win. “That was one of the toughest things I’ve had to do.”  For the Brunson family the night was a win-win. The Timberwolves (42-31) clinched their first winning season in 13 years and are on pace to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2004. They are currently two games ahead of ninth place Denver. All five Timberwolves starters scored in double figures led by Karl Anthony Towns, who finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Andrew Wiggins added 17 points and 11 rebounds. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Knicks with 39 points. Trey Burke added 15 and Frank Ntilikina scored 13 as the Knicks fell to 26-47. The elder Brunson, who was on the Knicks team that reached the NBA Finals in 1999, plans to attend Villanova’s Elite 8 game in Boston on Sunday. Jalen helped Villanova win the national championship two years ago. “I’m glad there will be a game,” he said.   Sign up for BREAKING NEWS Emails privacy policy Thanks for subscribing! Send a Letter to the Editor Join the Conversation: facebook Tweet Continue Reading

Emmanuel Mudiay a model of inefficiency but Knicks committed to seeing if there’s something worth salvaging

MIAMI — The Knicks keep inserting Emmanuel Mudiay in the starting lineup, and the results remain as unimpressive as Papa John’s pizza. But Jeff Hornacek isn’t keen on suggestions that he should alter his point-guard rotation. “There you go with, ‘Let’s change the starting lineups,’ and ‘Let’s do whatever,’” the coach said after the Knicks were blasted by Miami on Wednesday, 119-98. “We may do that going forward, I don’t know. A game like this isn’t on Emmanuel.” Hornacek was understandably annoyed about being peppered with questions about Mudiay under the circumstances Wednesday, when it was the bench that produced the biggest clunker. But this was more about the body of work for Mudiay — a 16-game trial with the Knicks that includes a field-goal percentage of 36 and averages of 9.7 points and 4.4 assists over 25 minutes per. The 22-year-old is a model of inefficiency, shooting just 18 percent from beyond the arc and 65 percent from the foul line. Asked what he’d like to do better, Mudiay — who is wrapping up his third NBA season — replied, “Everything really, to be honest with you.” Mudiay has been outplayed consistently by his counterpart coming off the bench, Trey Burke, but the Knicks are committed to seeing if there’s something worth salvaging from a career gone sideways. After being benched in Denver, Mudiay was traded to the Knicks for Doug McDermott and a second-round pick. New York is 3-13 since that deal. “We’re not just going to have (13 games with Mudiay starting) and make a judgment call on a guy,” Hornacek said. “We’ve seen the other guys. The other guys are coming off the bench. Trey continues to prove that he’s a guy that can really give us something. We’re trying to see and see if he can get used to our guys and we just go that way.” Continue Reading

The once-historic Knicks-Bulls rivalry has deteriorated into two teams competing for draft position

The rivalry that once produced great drama plus lots of elbows and forearms is long gone. Michael Jordan would draw oohs and aahs at Madison Square Garden even as he was crushing the Knicks spirit and ruining much of the 90s for Patrick Ewing. But on Monday, MSG was so quiet for Knicks-Bulls you could hear a ping pong ball drop. This is March Madness in the NBA; 16 teams jockeying for playoff positioning while most on the outside looking in are dreaming of the Draft Lottery and trying to avoid being called on the carpet by the league office for blatant tanking. The NBA was high alert on Monday with three lottery-bound teams - the Knicks, Bulls and Grizzlies - all playing within five mile radius in Adam Silver's backyard. (LeBron James also has a dog in this fight since the Nets, playing host to Memphis, had its 2018 first round pick conveyed to the Cleveland Cavaliers via the Boston Celtics.) Memphis, which recently snapped a 19-game losing streak, is "battling" Phoenix and Atlanta for the NBA's worst record. This one will go down to the wire. The Knicks damaged their lottery odds by beating Chicago 110-92 for their first two-game winning streak since late January. The Knicks are now 26-45 overall while the Bulls, who won the previous three meeting against Jeff Hornacek’s team, fell to 24-46.  The Bulls raised a few eyebrows inside the Knicks front office when they boarded a plane for New York without their young core; Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine. But before you accuse the Bulls of next-level tanking just know that Dunn is in a walking boot, LaVine is only a year removed from major knee surgery and Markkanen, the rookie forward whom Phil Jackson fell in love with, has been dealing with back spasms throughout the year. If the Knicks complain about the legitimacy of the injuries the Bulls could just as easily counter that the Knicks buried their starting point guard, Jarrett Jack, when they acquired Continue Reading

Kristaps Porzingis’ appearance on basketball court sparks concern, but Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek insists ‘he’s being smart’

A photo of Kristaps Porzingis shooting on a basketball court was worth 1,000 questions that the Knicks weren't prepared to answer. Porzingis, who last week vowed to return better than ever next season following major knee surgery in February, was recently photographed in a gym inside his Manhattan apartment complex. "Technically I don't know what he's allowed to do from the doctors," Jeff Hornacek said. "Once you have a surgery like that — I had not that-extensive of a knee surgery — you want to get out there, you want to shoot. "I'm sure he's being smart about that stuff. If you're just standing there shooting, that's not going to have any effect. As far as I know, there's no basketball things he's involved with." Someone just sent me this picture of Kristaps Porzingis shooting in the gym at his Manhattan apartment building. pic.twitter.com/rNegFaCJ5K— Yaron Weitzman (@YaronWeitzman) March 18, 2018 Porzingis is not expected to play until January 2019. ***** Cleveland's Ty Lue became the second NBA coach this season to take a leave of absence for medical reasons. The Hornets’ Steve Clifford, a former Knicks assistant coach under Jeff Van Gundy, took a similar leave in December. "It's tough, it's a stressful job," Hornacek said. "And it's hard because all the coaches work extremely long hours. There's always a game to watch, always another film to watch. You want to be as best prepared as you can and sometimes you fail to realize what your health is doing with lack of sleep and stuff like that. So hope he gets better and they're in the playoffs, so hopefully he gets back for that.” The Cavs expect Lue to return before the start of the NBA Playoffs. *** Joakim Noah's status remains a sensitive topic with the Knicks. When a Chicago reporter asked about the former Bulls center, Hornacek did his best to avoid giving a detailed answer. "That's stuff that we went through as a team," Hornacek said. "The team now Continue Reading

Frank Ntilikina confident he can build off Saturday’s career night for Knicks

Frank Ntilikina didn’t get the start on Saturday against the Hornets, but he still posted his best finishing performance of the season. The rookie combo guard buried five of eight shots and scored a career-best 15 points (including a four-point play) in the Knicks’ skid-busting victory after being held scoreless in their previous loss — No.9 in a row — to Philadelphia. Afterward, the 6-5 Ntilikina also pushed back against the reasoning Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek offered for not deploying him in the starting five despite Courtney Lee’s absence for personal reasons Saturday. Hornacek cited match-up concerns against bigger guards such as Ben Simmons of the Sixers and Nic Batum of Charlotte. “As a competitor I won’t agree with that,” Ntilikina said. “Because that would make myself be . . . I don’t know how to say it in English — but you know me, I just want to take every challenge. “That’s the coach’s job and coach’s decision to put whoever he thinks is the better matchup on the court. But as a player we all gotta be ready when he calls you. And I was ready when he called me (tonight) and that will be the (approach) every night.” Ntilikina, 19, has expressed confidence all season that he will thrive in the NBA, adding Saturday: “I know I can do a lot of great things here.” According to ESPN, the Knicks have allowed 105.3 points per 100 possessions with Ntilikina on the court this season, which would rank a respectable 11th in the league, but 110.2 points per 100 possessions with him off the court, which would be 29th in the NBA. As with many young players, consistency has been the primary issue for the French rookie, particularly on the offensive end. Lately, he has shared playing time amid a three-headed point guard rotation with imported starter Emmanuel Mudiay, who was acquired from Denver at the trade deadline, and Trey Burke, another former NBA Continue Reading

Knicks rout Hornets, 124-101, at home to end nine-game skid behind Ntilikina’s career night

The tank stops here. At least for one game. The Knicks demolished the Hornets on Saturday at the Garden, 124-101, snapping their season-high nine-game losing streak behind Frank Ntilikina’s career-high 15 points. It was a forceful effort from the Knicks (25-45), but also one that could hurt their lottery chances. As a result of their first home win since January, they went from eighth to ninth in the lottery standings because the Bulls (24-45) lost to the Cavs. Interestingly, the Knicks host the Bulls on Monday. Most encouraging against the Hornets was the confident performance from Ntilikina, who came off the bench and unleashed this stat line — 15 points, 5-of-8 shooting, three assists, three rebounds. His previous career-high was 13 points. “It means something to me, of course,” Ntilikina said. “It shows improvement. Now I feel more comfortable than the beginning of the season. It gives me motivation to get more.” Tim Hardaway Jr. dropped a game-high 25 points on 7-of-15 shooting. The win snapped an eight-game losing streak at home, representing just their second victory in the last 19 games. With Courtney Lee out to attend the funeral of a family member, Jeff Hornacek started Lance Thomas and kept Ntilikina out of the lineup. But it was the bench that carried the Knicks on Saturday, especially when they ended the third quarter on a 32-7 run to assure the blowout. It reached the point in the fourth quarter where Hornacek turned to Jarrett Jack for garbage minutes. Jack had logged 10 consecutive DNPs as the Knicks shifted to prioritizing youth. The Hornets (30-40) started the day talking about making an improbable playoff push but should kill that talk after Saturday’s showing. They shot just 27 percent, with Dwight Howard — normally an efficient scorer (if nothing else these days) — missing 11 of his 17 attempts. All-Star Kemba Walker added Continue Reading

Willy Hernangomez uses praise for Hornets to take shots at Knicks

Unlike in New York, Willy Hernangomez is fine with not playing so much because he feels like he’s developing with a more organized franchise — and that starts with the differences between Jeff Hornacek and his new coach, Steve Clifford. “(Clifford) tells you the things that’s going on, the things that he wants to do and wants to improve. The things you have to do if you want to play. It’s very clear,” said Hernangomez, who scored nine points with seven boards in his Garden return on Saturday, a 124-101 defeat to the Knicks. “I really like Steve and he’s a different kind of coach. Here everybody follows rules — defense, offense, everybody helping each other. It’s not like, maybe in New York it was a little bit free — defense, offense. Here everybody follows rules, everybody helps each other. I was really surprised when I came here to see the difference.” Hernangomez, 23, also spoke positively about his relationship with Hornacek, all with the understanding that his demotion to the bench was a byproduct of the Knicks’ front office trading for Enes Kanter during the summer. Hernangomez’s frustration with the Knicks reached the point of publicly requesting a trade in February, less than a year after he was named a First Team All-Rookie selection and billed as a future cornerstone. According to a source, Hernangomez showed up to training camp in poor physical shape and that accelerated his demotion. Hornacek pushed back at the premise he’s coaching with less structure than the Hornets. “Every coach is different. I don’t know exactly what they’re doing over there. They may have a few more plays but to me a lot of their stuff is they have their handful of plays and their pick-and-rolls with Kemba Walker,” Hornacek said. “I don’t know what they’re working on, but we encourage guys to work on all parts of their game. We don’t know Continue Reading

Knicks end nine-game skid by crushing Hornets

Jeff Hornacek wanted to see a little extra fire in his players’ eyes. He got his wish, and the Knicks did something they hadn’t done in seven weeks — a home victory. It was a rare sight with Knicks’ players jumping off the bench and waving their towels. They haven’t had much to cheer lately. March Madness, indeed. The Knicks built a 38-point second-half lead and coasted to a 124-101 victory over the Charlotte Hornets Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. This is not a misprint. The Knicks snapped a nine-game losing streak overall and eight-game home skid. Their last win at the Garden was Jan. 30 over the Nets. The Knicks may not be playing for anything, but they were playing for something Saturday night. They played with energy, shared the ball, defended and like a team that wanted to experience a win for a change. This was just their second victory in the last 19 games for the Knicks (25-45). They’re one of the worst third-quarter teams in the league, but they outscored the Hornets 42-17 in the third. It was their highest-scoring quarter of the season. This won’t help the Knicks’ draft position. They were all alone with the eighth-worst record before this game, but pulled into a tie with the Bulls, who played Cleveland Saturday night. Chicago visits the Garden Monday in a big swing game for lottery position. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Knicks with 25 points. Rookie Frank Ntilikina scored a career-high 15 points. Trey Burke added 14. Troy Williams scored 13. Undrafted rookie forward Isaiah Hicks shot 5-for-5 and had a career-high 12 points. The Knicks were so comfortably in control, Hornacek put veteran Jarrett Jack in the game in the fourth quarter to close it out. It was no slight on Jack. He started 56 games, but he hadn’t played in the past 10 games with the Knicks giving more time to the young players. Dwight Howard had 14 points and 13 rebounds for Charlotte (30-40). Former Knick Willy Hernangomez had Continue Reading

Hernangomez finds structure and lessons he wasn’t getting in NY

Unlike in New York, Willy Hernangomez is fine with not playing so much because he feels like he’s developing with the Hornets. The center, who returns to the Garden to face the Knicks on Saturday, is undergoing something of a transformation in Charlotte better-suited for the direction of the pace-and-space NBA. “I can shoot here. You see my warmups for example before games with the Knicks it was just low post and dunks. And here it’s more it’s just pick and pops, shooting 3s, floaters, I feel free to do more stuff,” Hernagomez said during the morning shootaround, with a bright smile and looking genuinely refreshed. “In New York, I was just rolling and playing the post and making passes. Here I can shoot 3s, I really feel great and nobody tells you not to shoot if you miss one shot so I think it’s going to be a great place for me to keep developing and keep improving. And like I said, I’m really excited for my career in Charlotte. It’s a great place. I’m happy.” Hernangomez, 23, was a First Team All-Rookie selection in 2017 and was billed as a future cornerstone by the front office. But he fell out of the rotation after the Knicks acquired Enes Kanter, and his development was stunted to the point that Hernangomez publicly requested a trade. His new coach, Steve Clifford, has pushed tough-love on the Spaniard, explaining to him that he won’t play unless, “he really improve his shooting.” Hernangomez portrayed the Hornets as more straightforward and organized than the Knicks, starting with the differences between Clifford and Jeff Hornacek. “(Clifford) tells you the things that’s going on, the things that he wants to do and wants to improve. The things you have to do if you want to play. It’s very clear,” Hernangomez said. “I really like Steve and he’s a way different of coach. Here everybody follows rules – defense, offense, everybody Continue Reading