GREENBURGH, N.Y. – There have been scattered bright spots in the Knicks' dark season.
One of them has been the recent play of rookie Allonzo Trier, who is coming on strong as the NBA-worst Knicks (13-52) pile up loss after loss. In the seven games since the All-Star break, Trier is averaging 18.0 points and has scored at least 20 three times, including 29 points on Monday in Sacramento.
The Knicks will face the Kings again on Saturday at Madison Square Garden, and fans can expect to see Trier putting up a lot of shots from beyond the arc. The team’s top three-point shooter in the regular rotation, Trier is shooting 41.4 percent from downtown this season and has made 66.7 percent of his three-point attempts in the Knicks' last five games (10-for-15).
Trier, who was undrafted out of Arizona, was a big early-season surprise when he made the team and then got a spot in the regular rotation. After suffering a hamstring injury in December, he missed seven games and struggled to play at the same level when he returned.
“I thought the injury kind of knocked him out of his rhythm there for a little bit,” coach David Fizdale said. “But I’ve really felt like over the last three weeks to a month, you could see him starting to get his footing back and starting to play well. I think for him, I think it’s finally all starting to slow down a little bit, and the way that he can score the ball and the way that he works at it and studies the game, I expected him to start playing good basketball at some point.”
Trier said one thing that has helped him in his recent stretch is that he has been given a green light to shoot more from beyond the arc.
“I’ve just focused more on taking threes,” he said. “In all honesty, that’s what happens with us getting [the ball] up more. The coach said I shoot it too well not to get more of them up. That’s kind of been my focus. Hopefully I can keep shooting at a high percentage, but that all comes from our preparation.”
Trier believes he is getting better at finding the open man – something that was a criticism of his game earlier in the season – and is working on his defense. Overall, he sees this season as a tremendous learning experience.
“All the experiences I’ve been through in my life tell me more about myself,” he said. “One thing I know is I’m very capable of adapting to situations. I think that’s why I’ve been able to do a good job here. I’m getting better every single day. It’s been a lovely process.”
Notes & quotes: Frank Ntilikina, who has not played since Jan. 27 because of a groin injury, will be re-evaluated by doctors on Saturday. Ntilikina did not practice with the team on Friday but had a “more active workout,” according to Fizdale. There is no timetable for his return.