Knicks center Enes Kanter drives the ball against Hawks forward...

Knicks center Enes Kanter drives the ball against Hawks forward Tyler Cavanaugh at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Enes Kanter was in so much pain after getting kneed in the hip during the Knicks’ loss to the Bulls on Saturday night that the training staff gave him crutches. Kanter still was using them when he entered the Garden on Sunday, but he decided he was good enough to go.

“Just playing through it,” said Kanter, who had eight points and five rebounds in 18 minutes in the Knicks’ 111-107 win over the Hawks. “I’ll be in the zone during the game. If we’re going to make the playoffs, it makes sense to sacrifice. I won’t be thinking about it during the game.”

Kanter missed three games earlier this month with a back injury and the Knicks went 0-3.

“He’s trying to fight through those things, but that’s part of the NBA year,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “You play with bumps and bruises.”

Loss of Hardaway hurts

Hornacek said the team has lost some of its offensive identity without Tim Hardaway Jr., who is out for at least eight more days with a stress injury to his left shin.

“I think it hits us a bit,” he said. “Tim gives us another guy who can run the lane with speed and athleticism. You see a lot of times we throw the ball ahead, he gets an easy bucket. They have to honor him on the three-point line, so we have to spread out a little bit more. We don’t quite have that when he’s not out there. The other guys can step up maybe with shooting, but other guys have to create that for them. Tim is one of the few guys on our team that can really create his own shot. So yeah, we miss him, but that can’t really be an excuse.”

Garden of Dreams Night

As part of Garden of Dreams Night at the Garden, Hornacek kicked off his pregame news conference by introducing Rikky Degale and Kevin Thompson. Degale was the team’s honorary coach and Thompson was the honorary player for the game. The Garden of Dreams Foundation is a non-profit organization that works with the Madison Square Garden Company to positively impact the lives of children facing obstacles.

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