NEW YORK — After a strong performance in support of Carmelo Anthony on Sunday, Tim Hardaway Jr. put on a Michigan baseball cap and appeared happy not only with his own play but with that of his alma mater, too.
Hardaway Jr. scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half as the Knicks won their second straight, 110-103, over the Lakers. Anthony followed his career-best 62-point outing Friday night win 35 points in this one.
“My offense I feel like it’s fine, it’s just the defense I’m really trying to get better at,” said Hardaway Jr., who went 7-for-12 from the field and 4-for-5 from deep. “Just try to get better each and every day in practice and during the games.”
The first-round pick out of Michigan is averaging 8.5 points and 1.4 rebounds and has impressed coach Mike Woodson, especially on the offensive side.
“I’ve said all along Tim is ahead of the scale,” Woodson said. “He’s not your typical rookie. He spent some time in college. I think his dad obviously has done a hell of a job in coaching him a little bit over the years and working with him on his game. He’s kind of ahead of the game a little bit in terms of his individual play. I think as the years go by and he physically gets a little stronger, he’ll be a much better defensive player. He knows all the schemes but he gets knocked off his path at times because he’s just not physical enough.
“But offensively he’s got all the tools to be a really solid offensive player in this league, I think.”
Hardaway Jr. could get an invite to the Rookie Game during All-Star weekend in New Orleans, but he hasn’t heard anything official yet.
“I didn’t hear anything about it so I’m just trying to focus on Knick basketball and trying to go out there and perform for my team,” he said.
“It would be a nice honor. Not many people get to play in that game or the All-Star Game in general so it would be great just to compete with the best rookies and sophomores.”
Meantime, his alma mater has beaten three straight Top 10 teams — Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan State — despite missing center Mitch McGary, a projected first-round pick, who is out with a back injury.
“I think they’re doing a great job,” Hardaway Jr. said. “They’re not focusing on [McGary]. They’re focusing on the team they have now and coach [John] Beilein does a great job. I’ve been in the system for three years and his stuff works. Don’t give him a week to prepare for you because you will lose.”
Another former Michigan standout, Manny Harris, just signed a second 10-day contract with the Lakers and went for 18 points off the bench in the loss.
“I talked to him before the game,” Hardaway Jr. said, “but after that it was all about the game today.”
**For my NBA.com Notebook with Video, Notes & Quotes from the Knicks’ 110-103 win, click here.