The Knicks probably wish the blizzard had come early and postponed Friday night’s game. As it was, they played as if they were in snow boots against a team in track shoes.
The Clippers were a few steps quicker all game despite having played Thursday night in Cleveland. Chris Paul got wherever he wanted on the floor. DeAndre Jordan took seven shots and made every one of them — all dunks — and the Clippers got wide-open three-pointers all night.
It was an ugly night at the Garden all the way around. The Knicks’ six-game home winning streak came to a screeching halt with their most lopsided defeat of the season. They were trounced, 116-88, and lost starting center Robin Lopez in the third quarter when he was ejected for slapping Paul in the mouth and getting into a skirmish with Jordan.
“We weren’t ready to play this team,” Derek Fisher said. “They were physically faster, better.”
Carmelo Anthony scored 16 points but shot 4-for-12 from the field. Kristaps Porzingis was worse, shooting 4-for-17 and scoring 13 points. Neither played in the fourth quarter, so they should be rested when the Knicks (22-23) play in Charlotte on Saturday night.
Jordan scored 20 points and Paul had 16 points and 13 assists. The Clippers (28-15) led by 31 despite being without Blake Griffin (torn quadriceps tendon). Los Angeles shot 13-for-23 (56.5 percent) from three-point range.
“Bad night,” Anthony said. “Bad night for us overall.”
The Clippers jumped on the Knicks right away and ran away in the third quarter. The Knicks drew within five three minutes into the quarter but were outscored 22-6 during a seven-minute stretch. During that run, things got ugly and heated.
Jose Calderon and Paul jawed at each other on back-to-back trips. It woke up Paul, who scored 14 points in the quarter.
Then, after Lopez missed a putback, he and Paul got tangled inside. Lopez slapped Paul in the mouth, and Jordan came to his teammate’s defense and pushed Lopez. After words were exchanged, Lopez pushed Jordan and the two had to be restrained.
“Things were pretty chippy out there,” Lopez said. “Maybe I overreacted a little bit. What happened happened. I’m OK with it.”
Jordan said, “I was upset about it. Chris is the smallest dude on the floor and he’s one of our leaders, so we’ve got to protect him. I didn’t like it.”
Lopez was ejected with 6:01 left and high-fived fans on his way to the locker room to cheers. The fans didn’t have much to cheer after that.
“There were a lot of underhanded things going on both ways,” Lopez said. “I just made the mistake of being a little less subtle than everybody else, to say the least.”
“It was not a great night defensively or offensively,” Porzingis said. “We struggled and I struggled.”
The Knicks were never really in the game because they couldn’t make stops consistently.
Fisher resorted to fouling Jordan intentionally six times between the second and third quarters. Jordan, a 41.4 percent free-throw shooter coming in, shot 6-for-12 from the line.
“Nothing else was really working,” Fisher said. “There wasn’t much that was going to work. They were better than us for sure.”