Kristaps Porzingis wasn’t available and when Tim Hardaway Jr. was scratched from the lineup less than an hour before tip-off Jeff Hornacek knew that his team was facing difficult odds, even against a team as poor and as dysfunctional as the Orlando Magic.
The Knicks are now winless without Porzingis this season as their comeback fell short on Sunday. Nikola Vucevic scored 34 points and Evan Fournier added 20, including four free throws in the final minute as Orlando escaped with a 105-100 victory.
The Knicks are 11-11 overall including 10-5 at the Garden. Afterwards, the Knicks announced that Hardaway Jr. has a “stress injury to lower left leg” will not travel to Monday’s game against the Indiana Pacers. The status of Porzingis is uncertain. The two averaged a combined 43.6 points.
Porzingis missed his third game this season, including his second against the Orlando Magic. With Hardaway also sidelined with an undisclosed “left leg injury” Jeff Hornacek was forced to get creative with his lineup.
Frank Ntilikina defends Magic center Nikola Vucevic.
Rookie Damyean Dotson received his first career start and finished with two points in 22 minutes. Michael Beasley started in place of Porzingis just as he did on two previous occasions. Hornacek used all of his available players with the exception of Willy Hernangomez and Joakim Noah.
Even Ron Baker and Ramon Sessions saw important minutes in the fourth quarter. The omission of Hernangomez is baffling but is has been going on all season. As for Noah, it says plenty about his future with the club.
Beasley led the Knicks with 21 points while Courtney Lee added 19. Enes Kanter 18 points and 16 rebounds but was manhandled by Vucevic, who entered the day averaging 16 points. Orlando won for the only the second time in their last 12 games.
D.J. Augustin drives past Lance Thomas.
It is unclear if Porzingis will be available for Monday’s game at Indiana. From all indications Porzingis arrived at the Garden to receive treatment but eventually returned home because he is still recovering from the flu. It is not known if he will travel to Indianapolis.
The Knicks played their first game since Porzingis was hurt in the opening minutes of Wednesday’s win over Miami when Porzingis twisted his ankle pursuing a loose ball. X-rays taken at the arena were negative and the following day an MRI failed to detect any significant ligament damage.
The Magic led by as many as 17 in the first half and even though the Knicks entered the fourth trailing 78-76 they never led in the final 12 minutes.