If the Knicks want to get back to the playoffs, they’re going to have to play a whole lot better than this.
For the second time this season, New York dropped a ‘gimme’ game to the lowly Orlando Magic — a team that has won just four times this season. It makes it all the more embarrassing that the Knicks have provided them with half of their wins, especially with both coming at Madison Square Garden.
After starting the 2021-22 season 5-1, the Knicks have lost six of their last nine games while MSG — instead of being a fortress — has become a sieve. Tom Thibodeau’s men are 3-5 at home this year, and there really aren’t explanations for it.
“It’s just weird out here right now,’’ star forward Julius Randle said. “That’s the best way to describe it: A little choppy. It’s a little weird. The chemistry’s not there yet. Like the flow of the game. It doesn’t feel like the flow and the chemistry are there yet.”
In the 104-98 loss, Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier recorded just five points apiece while the Knicks shot 6-of-22 from three-point range in the first half. They were sloppy with the ball, committing 18 turnovers on the night to unravel a solid defensive night that saw them hold Orlando to 40.6% shooting from the field.
Consistency is key and the Knicks just don’t have it, yet.
“You have to play 48 minutes,” Thibodeau said. “Again, you can’t let your guard down and unfortunately, we beat ourselves. Our turnovers hurt us. The second shot hurt us. So, we are capable of playing a lot better than we did.
Thibodeau then zeroed in on himself.
“I have to do a better job of getting them ready, that’s on me, so we will take a good hard look at it, he said. “It is easy to look at and analyze because our defense was better, the rebounding wasn’t good, we turned the ball over too many times. When you give teams a second and third crack at it, it’s hard to win and we let them get in the open floor off of our turnovers. Usually, we take care of the ball and we are a low turnover team, we weren’t and it cost us.”
The Knicks have a few nights off before they hit the floor on Saturday at MSG against the Houston Rockets. Things get much tougher when they head to Chicago to face a hot Bulls team before meetings with the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, and Atlanta Hawks next week.
“I always say when you don’t meet your goals and are disappointed, you start with yourself, and you work your way out,” Thibodeau said. “So what I can do to help and my job is to have them ready. I feel like we weren’t playing the way we are capable of playing and that falls on me. I need to make sure we play with that edge and are ready to go, so, I will start there.”