GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Tim Hardaway Jr. said he wished the Knicks had a game on Monday so he could wash away the bitter taste of the last two games.
Hardaway, whose missteps and misfirings led to crushing defeats on Friday and Sunday, opened his session with reporters on Monday by apologizing for not taking questions after Sunday’s 99-96 home loss to his old team, the Atlanta Hawks.
“First and foremost, I just want to apologize for [Sunday],” Hardaway said. “My emotions definitely got the best of me. Just an emotional game, atmosphere. Just wanted to win really bad. It’s nothing personal.”
Of much more importance to Knicks fans than Hardaway’s lack of words were his actions in the closing minutes on Sunday and in Friday’s two-point loss to the Bucks in Milwaukee.
On Friday, Hardaway shot 1-for-14 and missed a three-pointer at the buzzer to start a Super weekend of misery.
On Sunday, he took an ill-advised shot with 1:05 left, committed a turnover with 6.3 seconds to go and missed a potential tying three-pointer at the buzzer. In the last three games, he is shooting 5-for-33. “These last two games — they’re definitely on me,” he said. “Learn from it. Be a man about it. Own up to it. Move forward.”
Hardaway will get a chance for redemption on Tuesday when the Knicks host the Bucks. On Monday, he addressed his last-minute decisions against the Hawks, starting with the too-quick shot he took after rebounding Kristaps Porzingis’ missed free throw with the Knicks leading by four. He and the Knicks would have been better served to run some clock.
“I felt like it was a little bit of contact in there, so first instinct as a scorer, a shooter, [is] put the ball up,’’ he said. “But I have to be smarter than that. I have to be a lot smarter than that as a ballplayer. With that being said, we went down the court, we had an opportunity to get a stop. We got that stop. We didn’t get the rebound . . . I know I made a bonehead play, but at the same time, we had an opportunity as a team. It’s just a team loss.”
But he added, “At that point in time, you’ve got to be a ballplayer and do the smart thing and bring the ball up the court. That’s on me. That’s mine. Nobody else but myself. Watched film on it, got better from it, learned from it and moving forward.”
Coach Jeff Hornacek had a chuckle and a wry smile when told about Hardaway’s epiphany. “It’s funny,” he said. “A lot of things that happen out on the court, guys always kind of understand it seconds after they do it. He realized it.”
Hardaway’s bread and butter — and the reason the Knicks signed him away from Atlanta for $71 million — is his scoring. Even though he was struggling, Hornacek drew up a play that had Hardaway attempting the final shot.
“Same kind of shot the last two games,” Hardaway said. “Just didn’t fall down for me. I definitely wanted to redeem myself after the mistake the previous plays. You’ve got to learn from it, you’ve got to go out here and work on those type of shots, work on those game-time situations and be better.”
Notes & quotes: Third-string center Willy Hernangomez’s representatives recently asked the Knicks to trade their client, according to a Yahoo Sports report. Hernangomez himself has made it clear he’d welcome a trade if it meant more court time. The deadline is Thursday . . . Frank Ntilikina is questionable for Tuesday with a sore knee. He missed the second half on Sunday . . . Ron Baker is scheduled to have arthroscopic stabilization surgery on his right shoulder on Wednesday and will miss the rest of the season. Rehab is expected to take four to six months.