The Garden sang: "We want Frank!" Interim coach Mike Miller never agreed because it turned out he couldn't.
Miller said he found out late that Frank Ntilikina was unavailable because of the Knicks' defeat against the Grizzlies on Wednesday evening between 127 and 106 because his groin area flared up again.
"Frank was an important part of the game plan," said Miller. “When I was sitting on the bench, I found that he could not be reached because his groin area could not loosen. He was a big part of the game plan. "
Instead, Miller went from the bench to Dennis Smith Jr. for the second time in a row as the first point guard. Ntilikina never played, although the Knicks could have used his defense as Grizzlies Point Guard Ja Morant, who shines with 18 points and 10 assists.
Ntilikina missed two games earlier in the month due to a painful groin, but had since played seven games, including three minutes from the bench in Charlotte on Tuesday. It was a groin injury that derailed his season last year and forced him to miss 32 of the last 34 games.
"He felt that a few days ago," said Miller. "It's something he's working on. Frank was permanent this month. We had 16 games in 28 days. It basically plays every other day and a few stretches. … I think he held up pretty well. As I was told, he was having trouble loosening up. "
Smith had never played two games in a row before starring for Elfrid Payton in the last two games. He also recently missed 13 games in a row due to an odd strain.
The sudden change in Smith's season comes just over a week before the NBA closes on February 6, when it could be moving again. Smith ended the game on Wednesday with eight points, four sales, four assists and two rebounds in 13 minutes.
"We have a lot of people we can go with," said Miller. "They all did a great job. We know they want to play. We know they need time to play. But they come in and work professionally every day. When they call, they go to play. Dennis was good. He was professional. He got ready. "
The NBA's official "Last Two Minute Report" said the referees "correctly" fought off Marcus Morris' 3-point basket and possible 4-point game, and attacked him late Tuesday at 97:92 with an offensive Charlotte punished for foul.
Regardless of whether it is former coach David Fizdale or Miller, Allonzo Trier, who was on guard in the second year, was out of the game practically all season – in just 20 games, mostly in the trash time.
When asked what has changed since his successful rookie campaign, Miller said: “We have a good number of guards – lots of options. He had a few options. It just wasn't really consistent. "
Trier didn't lose on Wednesday.
For more information on the Kobe Bryant tragedy, see the latest episode of the Big Apple Buckets podcast: