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Enes Kanter will play through back and hip pain

Enes Kanter on the Knicks battles for a

Enes Kanter on the Knicks battles for a loose ball against Brook Lopez of the Lakers at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 12, 2017. Credit: Jim McIsaac

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Enes Kanter estimates he’s only “40-50 percent” healthy, but he doesn’t plan on sitting out.

Although his back is affecting his movement, Kanter said he will play through it because he doesn’t want the Knicks to move down in the standings.

“Every game, every possession counts,” Kanter said following practice Wednesday. “I’ll get rest in the summer time.”

This mentality comes from Kanter’s first season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The team was tied for the eighth spot in 2015, but they missed the playoffs because of tiebreakers. After the Knicks beat the Lakers on Tuesday, they were in a four-way tie for the sixth playoff spot.

“We said it before the game, ‘Hey we’re playing for a playoff spot,’” Kanter said. “So when we’re out there, every possession counts, every rebound, everything counts. Play like a playoff game.”

Kanter missed three games last month with back spasms. Hesaid his hip and back are limiting him. He’s no longer on the crutches he needed over the weekend when he hurt his hip Saturday in Chicago. But Kanter said he still feels it when he walks.

It hasn’t stopped Kanter, who is averaging 13.4 points and 10.3 rebounds, from playing his usual aggressive game inside.

Kanter had 14 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes on Tuesday. Kanter didn’t play in the fourth quarter and overtime because the Lakers went small, but he said he could have. He’s expected to play Thursday against the Nets.

“Whenever I’m in the game, I’m in the game zone,” Kanter said. “I don’t think about my body because I dive for the ball yesterday and I did not care how my back was going to feel or anything. It’s just like, ‘Who cares man?’”

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek, who was an assistant with the Jazz during Kanter’s rookie season, can see that he’s not running the same.

Hornacek said he has to balance Kanter’s desire to play with what’s best for the team, and right now there’s no plan to shut him down for a little while.

“I think back to me playing back in the day, there’s times you go a couple of weeks and you’re banged up and then all of a sudden you’re better,” Hornacek said. “You get through it. That’s our hope for Enes. I think that’s what his hope is. That’s why he continues to play.

“We’ll try this. If it lingers on for a month or something like that then we have to look at it.”

New York Sports