The Knicks paid homage to their teammate, whose stepmother died Sunday. Mitchell Robinson wore “DSJ 5” on his sneakers. And the club seemed deeply hurt by the tragedy.
Smith’s stepmother died suddenly after he had left the practice facility following a film session.
Fizdale admitted he didn’t know when Smith will return to the club as their young point guard is back in Fayetteville, N.C.
“We’re leaving that up to him right now,’’ Fizdale said. “He’s got to take care of his family. Obviously we want to get him back as soon as he can. But when you lose somebody like, you’ve got to take care of his family first.
“Dennis is back home with his family now. Thoughts and prayers are with him right now. We’re going to miss him.”
The Knicks head this week on a two-game road trip — in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday and Boston on Friday. There’s a strong chance Smith won’t be at either game.
Smith’s career appeared to hit a new low during Saturday night’s second half against the Celtics when he was booed by Garden fans and several “We Want Frank [Ntilikina]’’ chants erupted.
Smith, who is shooting 1 of 11 for the season, was sullen sitting at the end of the bench after he was removed from the game. Now he’s dealing with a whole different situation. According to sources, Smith’s stepmother was not believed to be ailing.
When asked if her health situation was a reason for Smith’s funk, Fizdale said, “No, this is sudden. This was not anything that had to do with his play. I think the [back] injury early on is probably what impacted him the most.”
The players seemed shaken.
“It’s life,’’ said Julius Randle, the Knicks unofficial spokesman and team leader. “Just because we’re basketball players and make a lot of money and play a game we love for a living, [people think] we don’t have real feelings and deal with real-life problems. It’s the exact opposite as this situation proves. He’s going through something real.
“Us as teammates and brothers, we’ll be there trying to support him as much as we can and take as much time as he needs. It’s obviously a very sensitive situation. All we can do is be there as a brother and friend.’’
Rookie RJ Barrett picked up his first career win and first double-double with his 19-point, 15-rebound, five-assist effort. Barrett notched six offensive rebounds — a few off his own misses. He is the first Knicks rookie to record 19 points, 15 rebounds and five assists since Walt Frazier in 1968.
Allonzo Trier, who started the season opener, did not play.
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