Hardaway's dream comes true in debut

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- We probably won’t know who will start at shooting guard any time soon. But one thing seems pretty clear at this point: The Knicks are deep at the position.

They have J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert battling for the starting job. And then there's rookie Tim Hardaway Jr.

The Knicks' first-round pick had a scintillating pro debut on Wednesday night. He scored 16 points against the Celtics, the final two coming on a game-winning jumper from the wing with 8.2 seconds to play.

“Lucky enough the ball was out of bounds and coach pointed to the position where I was supposed to be," Hardaway said. "He called my number, and I was ready."

Ten of Hardaway's 16 points came in the fourth quarter, and all of his makes came from beyond 17 feet.

Hardaway should find plenty of open perimeter looks in the Knicks’ offense. And if he can continue to knock them down at Wednesday's rate, coach Mike Woodson may be forced to find minutes for his first-round pick.

Metta World Peace, for one, was impressed by Hardaway’s debut.

“That’s something to build on. I like that. Wow,” World Peace said. “Sometimes a stat don’t show what a guy has in him. And there’s no stat for what’s in his heart. First game, and he wanted it bad. I’m pretty sure that you’re going to see a lot of big shots like that from him.”

That largely depends on Woodson. The coach has said several times in the preseason that the Knicks have a "logjam" at shooting guard. Smith and Shumpert will battle for the starting spot. Woodson also may opt to play two point guards in his backcourt. That alignment helped the Knicks to a 13-game winning streak late last season.

Where that leaves Hardaway is anyone’s guess. For now, the former Michigan standout is content to “live in the moment.”

“It was great. Everything you asked for, you dreamed of, has come into reality,” he said of his game winner.

About a half hour after he hit the shot, Hardaway embraced his dad, former Knicks nemesis Tim Hardaway Sr., in the bowels of the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence.

Hardaway Sr. was at the game working as a scout for the Heat but couldn’t help but root for his son in what was a memorable NBA debut.

“He was out there scouting but at the same time supporting me. So it was great just to see him there,” Hardaway Jr. said.

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