With Tim Hardaway out of the lineup for an indefinite amount of time, the Knicks are searching for someone to fill the void in minutes and in scoring. Prior to tonight’s win, they were 1-3 without their second leading scorer.
Starting guard Jarrett Jack helped to fill the gap in scoring Sunday night, as he posted a season-high 19 points. The Knicks guard says he was more focused on being the distributor but now has to focus on scoring too.
“We had a number of guys that were rolling offensively early on in the season,” Jack said. “I thought it was a no-brainer for me to sacrifice that for the betterment of the group, for the betterment of everybody.”
Jack began the night going 3-for- 3 from the floor, scoring seven of his 19 in the first period. “I try to step in and be aggressive, put up shots early and I was able to get in pretty good rhythm,” the 13-year veteran said.
The former Hawk still lives in Atlanta and has had his highest point total and tallied a season-high 14 assists against his former team. He says his performances give him something to boast about when he returns.
“I live in Atlanta so maybe I just want to have bragging rights in the summer,” Jack said. “When I go to the gym I want to have something to go in there and be able to talk about.”
Jack credits the Knicks with the next man up mentality that has helped him prepare for the moment.
“That’s the nature of the business you may never know what may come your way but you have to be ready for the opportunity that comes your way,” the point guard said. “Look at a person like Ron Baker right now. He hasn’t played in a nice little time and each and every day I see him working, I see him practicing hard. I see him getting extra shots. I see him getting extra sprints when everybody is kind of getting ready to kind of end practice and go about their day. Coach called his name. I’m not sure if coach kind of let him know that he was going to get put in the rotation, but coach called his name and Ron came in and was a tremendous lift for us.”
Baker, who has been fighting ankle and shoulder injuries to begin the season, was the biggest beneficiary of Hardaway’s minutes in the rotation. After accumulating 18 DNPs and a few stints in the G-League with the Westchester Knicks, the Wichita State product was ready for tonight’s assignment.
“The last two games the coach has told me ‘hey, be active and be ready to go,’” said Baker. “We want to have an extra ball handler out there tonight. Make sure you check personnel and be ready to go, which is kind of the tip he’s given me.”
Baker logged a season-high 31 minutes, scoring nine points while adding four assists and two steals.
“It was obviously a lot of fun,” Baker said. “I felt like I contributed very well. Any time you can finish a game with a win and feel like you contributed, it feels pretty good. The biggest part is just to keep humble and come tomorrow ready for work and Tuesday.”
“I think he adds a grittiness and a toughness to our ball club and I was proud of him tonight,” Jack added.
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