The Knicks February (INJURIES) Blues


Knicks starting to feel domino effect of critical injury absences
By NYPost Stephan Bondy

In the aftermath of their first loss in nearly three weeks, the Knicks tried to both shrug it off and understand their health is an issue that can no longer be glossed over.
Three would-be starters — Julius Randle, OG Anunoby and Mitchell Robinson — have all missed at least four games in a row.
Quentin Grimes, another part of the top-8 in the rotation, sat the past two with a sprained knee.

The domino effect has been way more minutes for players unaccustomed to such a load, plus an extra focus from the opposition — especially the Lakers — on Jalen Brunson.
“We’re missing [Anunoby]. We’re missing his ability defensively, able to knock down shots,” Josh Hart said. “We’re missing [Randle], an All-Star for a very good reason, 25 [points] and nine [rebounds] every night. Quentin’s ability to space the floor.
“I don’t think we’re missing just one guy. We’re missing three big guys, and obviously, Mitch has been out for months. But you know, when you’re missing four key players, three of which are starters, it’s always tough.”
The good news on Anunoby and Grimes is that they’re considered “day-to-day,” according to Tom Thibodeau, although neither has spoken to the media since sustaining their respective injuries.
Grimes’ knock was obvious.
He planted his right foot while trying to guard Utah’s Collin Sexton on Tuesday and was in clear pain after his ankle turned and knee buckled.
Grimes returned in that contest but then joined the injury report with a semi-optimistic update Saturday from Thibodeau that the guard “is doing a little more.”
Anunoby is more of a mystery.
He had been wearing kinesio tape on his shooting elbow during games, but didn’t feel comfortable while warming up last week in Charlotte and became a late scratch.
He hasn’t played since because of elbow inflammation.
“When he’s healthy enough, and he feels comfortable and he can trust his body, he’ll be out there,” Thibodeau said, a standard answer from the coach that often means it’s a pain tolerance issue and up to the player.
Anunoby has never been very durable or committed to playing every game like, for instance, Julius Randle.
He hasn’t logged 70 games in a season since his rookie campaign in 2017-18.
The Knicks certainly missed his presence Saturday while having their nine-game winning streak snapped.
Anunoby would have been guarding LeBron James.

Instead, the task went to Hart and Precious Achiuwa, who each logged 42 minutes.
Hart, who played in the summer for Team USA and entered training camp already tired, is feeling the effects.
He’s a valuable glue guy in the lineup, but his shot has been unreliable at just 30.2 percent from beyond the arc — including a 5-for-16 night overall from the field on Saturday.
He’s averaging a team-high 38.7 minutes in the past five games.
“This season — honestly, it’s been a trial-and-error kind of thing,” Hart said. “Just going into the season felt already tired, so I’m just trying to battle, trying to get the extra work in, trying to recover, trying to do those kind of things and it’s been up and down, up and down.
“I’ve been struggling to shoot the ball. Maybe at this point I’ve got to focus on getting more reps, hopefully my body can take it. If not, it is what it is. I’ve just got to focus on being in the moment. Even if I’m playing 40 [minutes], try to put extra work in and hope the body keeps up and lets me finish the season.”
It wasn’t just Hart misfiring on Saturday.
As the Lakers executed a game plan of blitzing Brunson, the rest of the Knicks made just 26 field goals on 69 attempts (37 percent).
Many of the misses were makeable.
That was the biggest reason the Knicks were able to shrug off the defeat, rather than let it simmer.

Isaiah Hartenstein, for instance, flubbed a couple of lay-ups and shot just 2-for-9.
“We were just missing shots,” Hartenstein said. “Top to bottom. It was just one of those games where I was missing stuff. Couldn’t catch the ball for some odd-ass reason. So it was just one of those games. They had a good game but I feel like we had a lot of opportunities where we just missed easy stuff.
“We just have to let it go and go into the next one. I think that’s kind of our approach right now to go in and see what we did wrong and build from there. But at the end of the day we were just missing shots.”
And they also could use some bodies back.
“Our margin of error is really small right now,” Thibodeau said.


Knicks stars not returning from injury for Grizzlies clash
By NYPost Mark W. Sanchez

The Knicks’ injury plight is not getting any better.
OG Anunoby, Quentin Grimes and Julius Randle have been ruled out for Tuesday’s Garden battle with the Grizzlies.
Mitchell Robinson also will miss his 30th straight game while rehabbing from ankle surgery.

Anunoby will be out for a fifth straight game with right elbow inflammation.
Previously, he had been wearing kinesio tape on his shooting elbow during games, but he did not feel comfortable warming up Jan. 29 in Charlotte. He was scratched from that game and has not played since.
There has been little update on the condition of Anunoby, who in his first six years with the Raptors played at least 70 games in a season just once.
Coach Tom Thibodeau said Anunoby’s elbow “flared up” before the Hornets game and has reiterated that the 26-year-old is “day-to-day.” Anunoby had played in his first 14 games with the Knicks, averaging 35.7 minutes per contest.
Grimes also has been regarded as day-to-day and will miss his third straight game with a right knee sprain. The shooting guard suffered the injury while trying to guard Utah’s Collin Sexton last Tuesday, his knee appearing to twist and Grimes coming up lame. Grimes returned in that game but has not appeared since.
Randle will miss his fifth straight contest since dislocating his right shoulder during a win over the Heat. On Thursday, the Knicks said they would reevaluate Randle in two to three weeks, which would be Feb. 15 at the earliest. Randle has begun rehabbing the shoulder with the hope of playing again this season, which would mean avoiding (or delaying) surgery.
The Knicks have won three of the four games in which Randle and Anunoby have sat, though their shooting went ice cold in Saturday’s loss to the Lakers.
The team already was short on offense before the injuries. Expect Jalen Brunson to continue to try to carry a significant load, and Donte DiVincenzo — averaging 23 shots and 15.5 3-point attempts in the four games — to continue seeing a green light.
“Down two starters, Mitch, right now missing like three or four guys,” Josh Hart said Saturday. “We still got enough to win, still got enough to compete.”
The Grizzlies, though, are in even worse shape than the Knicks.

Out for Memphis will be Ja Morant (shoulder), Desmond Bane (left ankle sprain), Brandon Clarke (Achilles), Victor Oladipo (knee), Marcus Smart (finger), Ziaire Williams (hand) and Jake LaRavia (ankle sprain).
Listed as “doubtful” are Jaren Jackson Jr. (right hip soreness) and Xavier Tillman (knee).
Questionable are Derrick Rose (left hamstring soreness), Santi Aldama (tailbone contusion), John Konchar (right calf contusion) and Vince Williams Jr. (left wrist soreness).
Brunson was a nominee for Eastern Conference Player of the Week after posting 34.3 points and 6.8 assists per game while shooting 49.1 percent from the field in four games from Jan. 29 to Feb. 4.
Hawks guard Trae Young (31 ppg, 11.3 assists, 65.5 percent from 3) was the winner.


The Knicks believe Brunson avoided a serious ankle injury, Ian Begley of SportsNet New York reports. The point guard is officially questionable for Thursday's matchup versus Dallas.
Brunson exited Tuesday's game after rolling his right ankle, and while it may cost him a few days, it doesn't sound like this is going to be a long-term issue. He was spotted walking slowly but without much of a limp as he exited Madison Square Garden late Tuesday, and these are all positive indications of his status moving forward. If he doesn't play Thursday, Brunson will have until Saturday to rest and recover before his next chance to suit up versus Indiana.

We are becoming dominoes .... Maybe this will force Thibs to at least let a (veteran) Fournier practice with the rotation.