The New York Knicks (39-28) broke their NBA-leading nine-game winning streak on Tuesday by losing 112-105 to the visiting Charlotte Hornets.
With 15 games still on their schedule, the Knicks are now aiming at building a 15-0 run through the remainder of the season, qualifying for the playoffs, avoiding the play-in, and reaching (breaking) the 13-game winning streak they put together for the last time in the 2012-13 campaign.
“I think every game is a trap game,” coach Tom Thibodeau said before the game.
New York is still in possession of the no. 5 seed in the East one game above the Nets (37-28) and two behind the Cavaliers (41-26). Cleveland has won two straight and Brooklyn has put together three consecutive victories entering Wednesday’s slate of games.
“It’s human nature. You let your guard down a little bit, you’re going to slip. This league is too good,” added Thibs.
After cooking themselves a 131-129 2OT victory at TD Garden last Sunday, the Knicks returned home and lost at MSG for the first time since they did so more than a month ago, on Feb. 4, against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The only players on New York’s squad posting positive plus/minus figures came off the pine on Tuesday—Obi Toppin, Isaiah Hartenstein, and Miles McBride—and no starter played more than 35 minutes.
“We weren’t great in defensive transition and we didn’t fly around like we normally do,” Knicks coach Thibodeau said.
On Sunday, Immanuel Quickley logged 55, RJ Barrett broke the 50-minute barrier, and big men Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson got 46- and 44-minute runs themselves.
“We just ran out of gas, that’s all,” Randle said.
Randle, who finished Tuesday’s outing with the second-most points for his team (16) had an atrocious shooting day going 5-of-17 from the floor and 2-of-9 from beyond the arc. “We gotta be better and take care of business,” he added.
Barrett found his best version scoring 27 useless points in New York’s 28th loss of the season. Only seven teams in the NBA have fewer defeats through Tuesday.
Thibodeau said that “you have to make sure you get the proper amount of preparation and that you’re ready to play,” though his mob just didn’t have enough in them a few hours ago facing the lowly Hornets.
The Knicks shot 38-of-89 overall and 11-of-40 from three-point range. The only thing falling for them were the freebies (18-of-24), but not even those came on high-enough volume as to make a difference.
Jalen Brunson missed the second game in a row, still dealing with foot soreness. He is expected to embark on the West Coast trip starting Thursday in Sacramento.
According to Thibs, Brunson “will play if he can play, and if the medical people and he feel that he needs another day, then we give him a day.” We’ll see how that develops.
Quickley scored 14 points and dished out five dimes. Quentin Grimes came back to hit double-digit points with 12. Mitchell Robinson screwed his double-double streak falling two rebounds short, finishing 14-8 on points and boards.
The most damaging of it all: Josh Hart lost a game for the first time since arriving in Manhattan, his record falling to 9-1. Hurt to watch.
“I think we didn’t play our style of basketball. We didn’t play winning basketball,” Hart said. “I don’t think we can blame this on fatigue. We have to continue to grow and play winning basketball.”
New York built a 16-point lead midway through the game scoring a freaking 45 points in the second quarter alone. It’s only the 36th time this season that has happened in a 12-minute period. It’s also the second time your Knicks have done this in a span of a week (47 points on Mar. 1 vs. BKN), and the third time this year (48 points on Nov. 13 vs. OKC).
Of course, somehow, they had to lose this one.
“There’s a lot we can learn from tonight,” Thibodeau said. “We’re not gonna be perfect. We didn’t play a great game, but (we have to) bounce back tomorrow.“
The Hornets put up a 14-2 run taking a three-point lead themselves with three minutes left in regulation. Randle tied it with a bit over two minutes to go. The Knicks led 66-50 at halftime. They scored 49 points after the break.
“In the end, we fell short. We ran out of time,” finished Thibs.
It’s the first win in four attempts without LaMelo Ball by Charlotte. At MSG of all places. They worked hard, and they earned the W.
“The reality is, our job is to play basketball,” Hart said. “You got people getting up at 6 a.m. doing 12-hour shifts. Those guys are tired. For us, we’re playing a game and we’re fortunate enough to be playing a game like this but we have to keep those in perspective. Can’t blame this on fatigue.”
Next game on the road at the Sacramento Kings (38-26) on Thursday night. Tip-off at 10:00p ET. Don’t miss it. We gon’ light their beam.