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TODAY'S PAPER

Ron Baker out while waiting for mask to protect face injury

Ron Baker #31 of the New York Knicks goes to the hoop in the first half against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 in New York City. / Jim McIsaac

Ron Baker wasn’t only posterized when he tried to prevent an Anthony Davis dunk Saturday night in New Orleans. Baker sustained a left orbital fracture after taking an elbow to the face from Davis.

Baker ended up returning to that game. But he needs to wear a protective mask now. Baker was fitted for one Tuesday, but the Knicks don’t have it yet. So he was unavailable Tuesday.

The Knicks start a three-game road trip Wednesday in Washington. They hope to have it then or sometime during this trip. The Knicks officially are listing him day-to-day.

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“Ron’s a tough kid and he’ll continue to play,” Jeff Hornacek said. “When he gets that mask, he’ll be right back to playing.”

Baker went through practice Monday, but he was held out of the contract parts. It’s remarkable that he returned to play 1:32 of the fourth quarter Saturday after taking the nasty elbow that required three stitches from the Pelicans’ big man.

The hard-nosed guard had no chance of blocking Davis’ dunk, but he tried unsuccessfully to affect it. Baker took the brunt of the play. He spilled out of bounds, as Davis completed the dunk. He also converted the three-point play.

“I think he was just trying not to give up [a dunk], trying to foul the guy maybe,” Hornacek said. “It looked like he went in front of Anthony Davis and Davis’ left hand hit him. That happens in basketball. I don’t feel like Ron was trying to avoid him but he still got hit.”

Hardaway progressing

The Knicks didn’t have an official update on Tim Hardaway Jr. yet. But he was checked by the doctors and the Knicks said Hardaway is progressing. Hardaway missed his 16th straight game with stress injury in his lower left leg.

Hardaway said last week he hoped to be cleared to run, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet. There could be an update later in the week.

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“He’s progressing along,” Hornacek said. “You see every day at practice he does a little bit more. They’re continuing to try and build him up be ready to play.”

Reflective Popovich

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich admitted he still misses Tim Duncan, and knows Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker won’t be around much longer, though he tried to joke about it.

“Manu will go at some point, maybe the next five, six years,” Popovich said. “Tony thinks he’s going to play for 10 more. These contracts are pretty good. Danny Green has been here for a while. What year is this for Kawhi [Leonard]? Six, seven, something like that? A lot of the guys have been around for a while. I’m the guy that should probably get the hell out of there so they can start over again and do something better.”

Noah’s status unchanged

Although Joakim Noah played the final 12:35 in New Orleans and helped the Knicks earn the victory, Hornacek said he would go back to being behind Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn in the rotation. Hornacek indicated Noah’s minutes would be based on situations. Noah was inserted in Tuesday night’s game with 3:13 left in the first half after Kanter gave up back-to-back offensive-rebound putbacks.