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Knicks rookie Kevin Knox growing physically and mentally

New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox heads to

New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox heads to the bench near the end of the team's NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, in Denver. Photo Credit: AP/David Zalubowski

Knox was averaging 26.3 minutes entering Friday’s game against the Lakers, and that figure has jumped dramatically of late. In the last 10 games since re-entering the starting lineup, Knox averaged 37.6 minutes, a workload that helped him average 17.9 points in that span. And that helped him earn Eastern Conference rookie of the month honors for December.

Knicks coach David Fizdale said he might try to reduce that workload.

“Maybe a little bit, yeah,” he said. “But again, we talked about building him into a premier NBA player at both ends of the floor. I’m just trying to give him a taste of what that entails. It’s not necessarily just the minutes you play but what are you doing in those minutes from an effort standpoint, from a competitive standpoint, how many calories are you burning? I’ll find ways to back him off and give him breaks here and there. What we’re recognizing is the kid is still growing, just his body mechanics and everything. I do want to push him.’’

While Fizdale is trying to push Knox, 19, the Knicks also are conscious of being cautious with the second- youngest player in the NBA. He regularly has scored a lot in the first quarter and had declining production after that.

“The more he gets, the more he’s going to get beat up, the more focus people are going to put on shutting him down,” Fizdale said. “Obviously, you can see in the second halves, he has big scoring first halves and the second half goes down some. I think that’s just a matter of fatigue and strength. Dealing with amped-up energy.

“So it’s just a matter of our strength and conditioning staff. Really, they’ve been doing a great job of getting him stronger, building his core, getting his base stronger. The kid still suffers from sore knees because I think he’s growing. You kind of let him go through that process.

"It’s a lot like how Frank [Ntilikina] was. Frank came back an inch-and-a-half taller this year. When you’re dealing with 19-year-olds, you don’t know. So we’ve got to make sure we’re doing it the right way where we don’t hurt him in no way, but definitely got to get him stronger and in just peak condition.”

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