Knicks’ Isaiah Hartenstein pivotal vs. Lakers despite not scoring

PORTLAND, Ore. — Backup center Isaiah Hartenstein had a massive impact on the Knicks’ win Sunday over the Lakers, despite being blanked in the scoring column.

Hartenstein recorded zero points in 24 minutes, but he grabbed 11 rebounds, played tough defense with two steals and one blocked shot and finished a team-best plus-19 as the Knicks ended their three-game losing streak.

“It’s just knowing that I don’t need to score to make an impact,” Hartenstein said. “I think that’s kind of been the way it was this year, where offensively maybe it was a little less. But I think I’m still finding ways to make an impact on defense, and playing hard, and doing whatever the team needs to win.”

Hartenstein, who has appeared in all 70 games this season entering Tuesday’s game against to the Trail Blazers, is averaging 4.9 points over 19.5 minutes per game. He also picked off a D’Angelo Russell pass Sunday, leading to a reverse dunk by Obi Toppin.

Isaiah Hartenstein rabs a rebound during the Knicks' win over the Lakers on March 12.
Isaiah Hartenstein rabs a rebound during the Knicks’ win over the Lakers on March 12.

With Jalen Brunson still sidelined Sunday with a bruised left foot, Deuce McBride also had a strong game (plus-15) off the bench, including a breakaway dunk and two 3-pointers in 17 minutes.

Told that Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said he always knows McBride will be ready to play whether in or out of the rotation, the second-year guard said, “Honestly, it’s the trust and belief. Hearing something like that, talking to Thibs, talking to all the other coaches, they know my game. They know that I’m always gonna stay ready and bring energy, so it’s a nice mentality to have.”

Miles McBride
Miles McBride enjoyed a strong game against the Lakers on March 12.
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Thibodeau continued to be vague on a timetable for Brunson, who wore a protective boot while on the bench Sunday. After Tuesday’s game, the Knicks don’t play again until Saturday at home against the Nuggets.

“You let the trainers do their job, and Jalen will do everything possible to get back as soon as he can, but we’re not gonna put him in harm’s way,” Thibodeau said. “When everyone clears him, he’s comfortable, he’s gotta trust his body, then he goes back out there. And that holds true for every player on the team. We’re not gonna get away from that, and that’s the right thing to do.”

Brunson was listed as doubtul for Tuesday’s game. Damian Lillard (calf tightness) and Jerami Grant (quad contusion) are both questionable for the Blazers.