April 16, 2024

Josh Hart — ‘Pleasantly surprised’ if OG Anunoby, Julius Randle return

NEW YORK — After Oklahoma City Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander broke the New York Knicks‘ hearts with a jumper with 1.8 seconds remaining to raise the Thunder to a 113-112 victory right here at Madison Square Garden Sunday evening, ahead Josh Hart delivered one other blow by indicating it’s extra doubtless than not each OG Anunoby and Julius Randle will not return this season.

“I’m looking at it like this is the team we’re going to have,” Hart stated when requested if there was something to remove from New York’s efficiency with three starters — Anunoby (elbow), Randle (shoulder) and Mitchell Robinson (ankle) — unavailable. “I think that’s how we have to approach it, that those guys aren’t coming back and obviously we’ll be pleasantly surprised if they come back.

“I’m not in these medical conversations or something like that, so I do not know s— from s—. But we have got to strategy each sport and the tip of this season that these guys aren’t coming again, and if they do, be pleasantly stunned.”

Both Anunoby and Randle initially left the lineup after the Knicks beat the Miami Heat on Jan. 27 right here at “The World’s Most Famous Arena.” Anunoby was dealing with elbow discomfort that eventually required a procedure to be done on his right (shooting) elbow, while Randle separated his shoulder after Heat forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. took a charge against him.

Anunoby eventually returned to the lineup for three games before sitting out the past seven, including Sunday’s loss to Oklahoma City, while Randle — who continues to work out diligently but has yet to progress past doing “managed contact” exercises — has not come again since then.

Before the sport, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was requested concerning the standing of Anunoby and Randle.

First Thibodeau was requested straight if there was any concern Anunoby could possibly be unable to return this season.

“We simply cope with actuality,” Thibodeau said.

“You cope with it day-to-day. When he is robust sufficient, he will get on the market.”

Then, after saying both Anunoby and Randle were more or less in the same place in their recovery processes, he addressed Randle’s ongoing rehab situation, which has seemingly plateaued for the past several weeks. It’s an injury Randle didn’t have surgery on and is notoriously tricky to deal with — particularly for a player who plays with as physical of a style as Randle does.

“Just preserve doing what he is doing, day-to-day,” Thibodeau said of Randle’s rehab process. “You by no means know when it turns. That’s principally the strategy we take.

“Rehab is really your game, so put everything you have into that. And eventually you’ll get there; you can’t get discouraged; just keep working at it. The other guys, they have a job to do.”

Sunday evening, the Knicks got here heartbreakingly near profitable for a second straight sport. But whereas Friday’s loss in San Antonio was regrettable as a result of the Spurs discover themselves on the backside of the NBA standings, this one was for solely totally different causes: specifically the self-inflicted wounds New York gave itself down the stretch, together with 5 missed free throws within the closing minutes.

Three of these have been by Brunson alone, who went on to then make what regarded like it could be a game-winning layup with 4.1 seconds to go — a play that noticed Brunson, not for the primary time, tumble to the bottom in a heap and put his fingers out on the lookout for a foul name.

“Write what you see,” Thibodeau stated a number of occasions in response to a number of queries about Brunson’s closing shot, and whether or not a foul ought to’ve been known as on the play.”

“He stated it wasn’t a foul,” Brunson said later, when asked what the referees said about not calling a foul there. “To put it into lengthy story quick, that is what he stated.”

The loss stored the Knicks a half-game again of the Cleveland Cavaliers for third within the Eastern Conference standings, and one sport forward of the Orlando Magic in fourth place.

Oklahoma City, meanwhile, clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2020 with Sunday’s victory, and also moved back ahead of the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves for the highest spot within the Western Conference standings.

“It feels good,” Gilgeous-Alexander said of the Thunder officially qualifying for the playoffs after he missed the prior two games with a quad issue. “Not actually ‘no huge hoorah’ for me. This workforce has huge targets, huge aspirations, and it is one of many issues that was on our listing for certain. And for us to, to take action, it feels good. You do not feel like there’s must rejoice it.

“We haven’t really done anything yet. We just got to keep getting better, and see where it takes us.”