Knicks’ defense crumbles in another lifeless loss on the road

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Call it the Carmelo Hangover.

Two days after embarrassing Carmelo Anthony in a stirring win at the Garden, the Knicks spent their next game looking like they missed him.

It was a rare night of complete ineptitude for Jeff Hornacek’s squad on both ends, though it has become customary on the road.

With Tim Hardaway Jr. still out and Kristaps Porzingis still nursing a knee injury, the undermanned Knicks played like zombies in getting blown out of the Spectrum Center in a humiliating 109-91 rout Monday, breaking a four-game winning streak.

The Knicks (16-14) fell behind by 25 points late in the first half as their defense was a certifiable embarrassment. Michael Beasley, starting for Porzingis, was atrocious on defense after an active start, though led the team in scoring with 23 points.

Ex-Hornet Courtney Lee was a complete no-show with two points on 1-of-8 shooting — 0 for 4 from the 3-point line. The Knicks shot 3 of 18 from deep.

The Knicks fell to 2-9 outside the Garden — and one of those victories came in the comfortable environs in Brooklyn.

This is also the end of the Knicks seven-game respite in which they played seven straight teams with non-winning records. Now they get Eastern giant Boston (25-7) and surprising Detroit (17-13).

One of the giant stats was Charlotte scoring 18 second-chance points to the Knicks’ zero. That’s usually the Knicks’ strength – on nights they are awake.

The Knicks were solid in the first eight minutes, building a 6-point lead, then collapsed on both ends. The Hornets rolled to a 58-33 bulge late in the second quarter off a 41-13 spree. The Knicks were a step slow on defense – as it seems they’ve been all season.

The Knicks began the second quarter going 4 of 16. They were missing layups and giving up layups and trailed 60-42 at halftime.

Starters Lance Thomas and usually reliable Lee combined to shoot 1 of 10 in the first half. Sixth Man sharpshooter Doug McDermott missed his first four shots and finished with 4 points (1 of 7), continuing his road woes.

The Knicks turned Charlotte reserve big man Frank Kaminsky, selected in the same lottery as Porzingis but having an inconsistent career, into a stud. Kaminsky looked like Latvian Lite, hitting his first six shots and scoring a team-high 24 points on 10 of 13 shooting.

There was no rim protection in the second quarter – the absence of the 7-3 Porzingis glaring. Whether it was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams or Nic Batum, they all spent time driving around Beasley, who played matador.

Things went so well for Charlotte in the half Dwight Howard sank all four of his free throws.

The blowout allowed Joakim Noah a chance to shake of rust as he entered with 6:44 left in garbage time. He received a rousing ovation from the large contingent of Knicks fans on hand in the South.


Leave a Reply