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Tim Hardaway Jr. playing his way into Knicks' rotation

Tim Hardaway Jr. (5) gestures after making a

Tim Hardaway Jr. (5) gestures after making a shot during the second half of a preseason game against the Boston Celtics in Providence, R.I. (Oct. 9, 2013) Credit: AP

TORONTO - Tim Hardaway was scouting for the Miami Heat Wednesday night in Providence but also was a father watching his son's first NBA game. And when Tim Hardaway Jr. buried the game-winning shot for the Knicks, his father beamed with pride.

Although it was just a preseason game and Hardaway was on the floor when the Knicks squandered a 23-point lead, it was a memorable debut for him. The Knicks' first-round pick showed he has the physical and mental tools to play in the NBA. He has good genes after all.

Hardaway missed his previous two shots and committed a turnover before hitting a baseline jumper with 8.2 seconds left to lift the Knicks over Boston, 103-102. He shot 6-for-10 from the field, scored 16 points and continued to impress his coach.

"I think Tim has put himself in a nice position to play," Mike Woodson said Thursday at Ryerson University after the Knicks prepared for Friday night's preseason game against the Raptors. "There's no doubt about that. He's going to be in the rotation. He's going to play some."

Yet Woodson joked he doesn't know how he will find minutes for the 6-6 Hardaway when the Knicks are at full strength in the backcourt.

Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith -- after he returns from knee surgery and serves his NBA-imposed five-game suspension -- are ahead of Hardaway in the rotation. Veteran guard Beno Udrih also is expected to play.

Woodson does use some three-guard lineups, with Smith or Shumpert playing small forward, so he could give Hardaway minutes that way.

But Hardaway, the No. 24 pick out of Michigan, understands nothing is promised to him and that he must continue to work before he's part of the regular rotation.

"What do I need to do: Go out and play defense," he said. "Coach Woodson really strives on the defensive end. I'm going to try to do whatever I can to get better in that aspect of my game."

Hardaway said he will talk to and get advice from defensive stalwarts Shumpert and Metta World Peace.

Carmelo Anthony has been in Hardaway's ear during practices and in Wednesday's game.

"He was just saying it's your time to shine now," Hardaway said. "Go out there and go to work, do what you do best, do what you do that got you to this level. It was great just to see a veteran like him talk to me like that and support me in that aspect."

Hardaway also had a little private time with his father before the Knicks flew here.

"He was happy," the younger Hardaway said. "But he's being a father and a coach at the same time, really trying to see what I did wrong on the court and what I could have done better. That's what I need in a father."

Bargnani: No hard feelings. Andrea Bargnani, who spent his first seven NBA seasons in Toronto, is expected to hear boos in his return Friday night, but he remained complimentary toward Toronto and its fans. "All I got to say about Toronto is I was very lucky to play there," Bargnani said. "Great fans. Great organization, so I was lucky to play there for seven years."

New York Sports