The Knicks finished their preseason Friday with a Garden loss, a 3-2 record and no official answer on who will be the starting point guard on opening night.
However, things cleared up a bit as Emmanuel Mudiay didn’t get in until 8:12 left in the game — an indicator he may not win the starting job when the Knicks make their season debut at home Wednesday versus the Hawks. However, Mudiay was on the court when the Knicks made a fourth-quarter comeback.
Frank Ntilikina, their 2017 lottery pick from France, performed the best during the preseason in the point-guard derby and filled up the boxscore Friday in the 113-107 loss to the Nets with nine points, five assists and four rebounds and was active defense. But coach David Fizdale has hinted he likes Ntilikina coming off the bench, off the ball and playing multiple positions.
Could that affect rookie Kevin Knox? With Knox fading as the preseason wore on, it would take a bold move for Fizdale to start Trey Burke-Ntilikina-Tim Hardaway Jr. in a three-guard offense and making the 2018 lottery pick Knox the sixth man. Hardaway did leave late in the third quarter and was diagnosed with a sprained left wrist. He’s had right-wrist issues in the past.
Knox started all five preseason games but was foul plagued and scored just three points on 1-of-6 shooting with five fouls on Friday. Knox finished the preseason 16-of-49 and was particularly off in his three games at the Garden.
Ron Baker got the opportunity to start against the Nets and looked fine with his defensive tenacity, but Fizdale went back to Burke to start the second half. Burke hit a 55-foot buzzer beater from halfcourt to close the first quarter. He posted nine points and three assists in 20 minutes.
The Knicks ended their preseason by attempting to come back from 21 points down in the second half. The rally was spearheaded by the 3-point shooting of center Luke Kornet,who drilled three consecutive treys in the final quarter, got the Knicks within five points and was called for a phantom foul with 1:00 left on a driving D’Angelo Russell, who led the Nets with 18 points. Joe Harris added 16.
Enes Kanter rested his iced-up knees and rookie Mitchell Robinson started. Robinson recorded seven points with three assists and two blocks and he finally took a mid-range jump shot. It was a blooper moment as Robinson’s 15-footer sailed wide right by several feet. Robinson hadn’t taken a long-range shot in summer league or preseason.
Fizdale said he doesn’t want his announcement of the starting lineup to be treated “as D-Day” by the players.
“Whoever starts on opening night doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to start the whole season,’’ Fizdale said. “So I’m not really looking at that as D-Day when it comes to our starters.’’