Heading into Sunday’s matchup against the 15-37 Atlanta Hawks, the 23-30 New York Knicks had a solid chance of snapping their two-game losing streak.
Instead, they blew a four-point lead with 1:07 remaining and dropped their third-straight and the 10th game out of their last 14 contests overall. Now 4.0 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks are not looking like a playoff-caliber squad.
After the game, some of the team’s players expressed their frustration to the media.
Veteran Courtney Lee labeled it as the worst loss of the season.
"I would say [it was] the most embarrassing game that we lost, being in the situation where a lot of the situations there was time to score, and we just didn't capitalize on opportunities," Lee said, per ESPN’s Ian Begley. "... We were in position to win this game, and I think we just checked out and lost focus on a couple of plays, and it cost us."
As always, Kristaps Porzingis voiced his opinion as well, and he took his criticism a step further than Lee did. Despite putting up 22 points, eight rebounds, five blocks and four steals in 32 minutes, Porzingis couldn’t help New York pick up the win, to his dismay.
"I can't even process that we lost. I can't believe it. It was our game. It was 100 percent our game. Stuff happened quick, and boom, it was over ... We're just not there yet as a team. We keep losing these games,” he noted.
Therefore, the face of the Knicks franchise is thinking about the big picture and doesn’t view the loss as an outlier. He believes it's a trend.
"We don't know how to finish games. We don't know how to win games at the end," Porzingis said. … We just didn't finish it. We don't know how to win yet. For me, that's the thing. Until we learn how to execute and do the right thing at the end, we'll drop games like this, our games, for sure.”
Perhaps even more significantly, Porzingis threw everyone under the bus, including the coaching staff. He insinuated that the team’s play calling down the stretch might have not been creative enough.
"Our execution can get better, obviously. It's pretty much we're doing the same thing over and over again. Maybe teams know what we're doing," he said. "But it's also on us the players. We also got to execute better. If I had the answer, it would be easier. I don't have the answer.”
Although he called out his entire team, Porzingis took some blame for the loss as well.
“My mid-range, the first half, I don’t know what the hell was happening,” he admitted, per Howie Kussoy of the New York Post. “I couldn’t make a shot. I wanted to be more aggressive and get to the free-throw line, get myself going like that.”
“I did a better job [in the second half], still, three missed free throws?” Porzingis continued. “I can’t let that happen. That’s huge.”
After getting off to an extremely-hot start, Porzingis has cooled down in a significant way in recent months. As a result, the Knicks as a whole have become much less dangerous, as they can no longer count on him to deliver 30 points on a nightly basis.
The Knicks can absolutely make up ground to get back into the playoff conversation. But, judging by the team’s inability to put away opponents, there’s no reason to assume that the team will turn it around with the current coaching staff and roster.News Now - Sport News