Kristaps Porzingis couldn’t locate his shot, and after being blocked inside and not getting a foul call in the third quarter, he allowed his frustration to keep him flat-footed. Porzingis didn’t run back on defense.
It was a bad look for the Knicks’ franchise player. But Porzingis wasn’t the only Knick who didn’t hustle back or give extra effort in their lopsided 110-89 loss to the Celtics Tuesday night.
Some long nights were expected for the winless Knicks this season, but they didn’t help themselves by giving a half-hearted performance when things didn’t go their way.
“I thought we hung our heads a little bit and kind of felt sorry a little bit when we weren’t making the shots,” Hornacek said.
“It’s one of those nights where you flush it down the toilet and get ready for the next one.”
It’s a fitting choice of words considering the Knicks performance belonged in there.
The Knicks (0-3) fell behind by 10 with 40 seconds left in the first quarter and never got the deficit under double-digits after that. The Celtics’ biggest lead was 25 points.
Porzingis missed 11 of his first 12 shots, and finished 3-for-14 with 12 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. continues to be an early disappointment after signing a four-year, $71 million contract. He was just 2-for-11 with six points. In the first three games, he’s 9-for-37 with 28 points.
But it wasn’t just missing shots that affected the Knicks. Something even more alarming contributed.
Veteran guard Courtney Lee, who was directing his teammates throughout the game, said some of the players don’t know the plays. That’s an indictment on so many levels.
“We messed up on a lot of plays where the ball wasn’t getting delivered on time or one or two guys not being on the same page as far as the play-calling,” Lee said. “That’s on us. We’ve got to pay attention more in practice, make sure we execute more when we’re out there.”
Lee didn’t mention anyone specifically, but he said Porzingis had to work extra hard to get open because players were out of position.
“If we miss shots, we miss shots. That’s part of the game.” Lee said. “But not being in the right position takes away a shot for your teammates. We got to learn the plays.”
The Knicks haven’t been together that long, but it could quickly turn ugly if this continues.
It’s too early to let frustration affect your play considering the season is just starting and the Knicks are a young team. They weren’t expected to be a playoff contender, but Knicks general manager Scott Perry has said repeatedly he wants to see them fight and be competitive. They weren’t Tuesday night.
Jaylen Brown led everyone with 23 points. Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum scored 22 and Kyrie Irving has 20 for the Celtics, who shot 14-for-29 from three-point range. The Knicks were 1-for-12 from deep.
Enes Kanter led the Knicks with 16 points and 19 rebounds. Willy Hernangomez, who wasn’t in the rotation the first two games, scored 12 points in 11 minutes.
The game got away quickly from the Knicks. They scored just 17 points in the first quarter and were down 13 after one. They became deflated almost just as quick.
“Just forced shots from us, from all of us, that led them into transition and us not getting back on defense and matching up, just created a lot of problems for us,” Porzingis said.
Hardaway Jr. added, “We’re all out there just running like we don’t know what’s going on. It can’t happen.”
The Knicks blew a 21-point lead in Saturday’s loss to the Pistons and were down 21 less than midway through the second quarter to the Celtics. It never was competitive after the first quarter.
“It was just a rough night for us,” Hornacek said. “It was just a tough night all around.”