At least he’s not going backward.
The stress injury to Tim Hardaway Jr.’s lower left leg is taking ample time to heal, but he is making progress, albeit slowly, it seems.
Hardaway wasn’t wearing a brace on his left leg as he took jump shots, went through shooting drills and jumped off both legs after Knicks practice on Tuesday.
“He’s moving more every day,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “So we’re just monitoring him more, giving him a little bit of time to see how that stress [injury] — whatever it is — responds when he puts a little weight on it. So it’s a good sign that he’s out there doing that.”
The Knicks are 6-6, but have lost three of the last four games, without Hardaway, who was averaging 17.8 points per game. The team has only vaguely described the injury, which has kept Hardaway out since Nov. 29. He is supposed to be reevaluated this week.
“Guys have done a good job filling in for him, but that’s one of our main guys who we’re missing,” Hornacek said. “And he lends something a little different. He runs down the court. You can throw ahead to him, he can attack the basket. We haven’t gotten many of those lately.”
On Christmas Day, Hornacek said he expected Hardaway back at some point during this upcoming stretch of 20 games, 16 of which are on the road. That would mean sometime next month. It was the first time the coach gave an approximation on a return for the talented shooting guard.
Hardaway’s absence has put more pressure on Kristaps Porzingis, who is shooting just 40 percent from the field over his last nine games while averaging 20.6 points per game.
But Hornacek said he doesn’t think Hardaway being inactive has directly impacted Porzingis. He attributed it more to the team as a whole struggling on offense.
“We’re not getting enough easy buckets,” the coach said. “We’re still getting our 100 points, but we’re not having those games where we get 110, 112.”
Point guard Jarrett Jack was given the day off to rest.