Kings guard Kevin Huerter, left, forward Keegan Murray and guard...

Kings guard Kevin Huerter, left, forward Keegan Murray and guard De'Aaron Fox, right, defend, as Knicks guard Jalen Brunson loses the ball during the first quarter of an NBA game in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday. Credit: Randall Benton

LOS ANGELES — The imaginations were running wild as the Knicks made their way through nine consecutive wins, capturing interest across the NBA and ascending through the Eastern Conference standings. And much of that success and the rising hopes of playoff success centered around the play of Jalen Brunson.

And now? The Knicks are once again wracked by uncertainty, uttering bold statements about how they’ll move forward, but waiting to find out just how long they might have to endure without their floor general.

Brunson sat out two games with a sore left foot and returned Friday at Sacramento. But after fighting through the pain for the first half, scoring 19 points to keep the Knicks in the game on a night when no one else seemed able to shoot, he gave in to the injury and was held out for the second half. And while the Knicks have been vague in their description of the injury and a timeline, the way he was laboring and the nature of a foot injury could mean an extended stay on the sidelines.

“Obviously, it’s tough because we were playing so well,” Josh Hart said. “He’s playing at an all-star caliber level this whole year. So it’s tough not to have him. But we are a talented team, a tough group and a resilient group. We went into Boston, one of the best teams in the league without him and won a tough double-overtime game.

“So I mean, obviously, it [stinks]. Obviously, first and foremost, we want him healthy and want to get him back. At times a group can overcome adversity. That’s something we have to do - we have three more games on the road trip. We have to focus on — whoever we play. Who do we play next? The Clippers? Focus on them.”

Perhaps it’s a sign of that focus that as Hart finished off a 15-rebound (eight offensive) game his mind was on the Kings, not anything beyond the task at hand. And that certainly will be required if the Knicks are to survive time without Brunson.

The Knicks have back-to-back games in Los Angeles this weekend against the Clippers and Lakers, then finish the trip in Portland Tuesday. When they return home there are three days off before hosting Denver. While Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said, “different injuries,” when asked if this was comparable to the situation Quentin Grimes faced in training camp and early in the season, the sore foot he dealt with nagged him for more than a month.

After losing their second straight game, they hold a one-game lead over Brooklyn for the fifth spot in the East with 14 games remaining. More pressing, they hold 3 1/2 game lead over Miami, who is in seventh place, and holding them off would mean avoiding the play-in tournament.

“I mean it’s obviously going to be tough to replace his production,” Julius Randle said of Brunson. “We’ll do it. We’re up to the task. Right now we’ve just got to find a way to lock in, basically really the defensive end more than anything and get off to little bit better starts. And just be a little more consistent on that defensive end throughout the game so we don’t need the runs to make up ground. I feel like we’ll be fine.”

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