The “ship be sinking” is perhaps the most infamous quote in Knicks history, with troubled former star Micheal Ray Richardson’s so apt description of the team’s collapsing 1981-82 season still recalled and invoked to this day.
The current situation may not be quite so dire for the crashing Knicks, but star Kristaps Porzingis went with a different nautical theme after they couldn’t take advantage of another home game on Sunday – flushing a 19-point lead in the second half and falling in overtime for the second straight game at the Garden, 123-118, to unstoppable Anthony Davis and New Orleans.
“So many similar games like this. It’s painful. We need to do a better job at the end of the game. It’s simple,” Porzingis said after the Knicks lost for the 10th time in 12 games to fall to 19-24 overall. “Today, one quote popped in mind and that was: ‘A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.’
“We just have to stay positive and try to find something positive in this, also. It’s a process. It’s not going to happen in one day. There will be a moment when we get out of this and everything will seem great.”
That moment clearly is not now, not amid this ongoing grueling stretch that finds the fading Knicks playing all but four of 20 games outside Manhattan – with a bicoastal seven-game trek beginning Monday in Brooklyn.
Of course, their recent skid also now includes four brutal home losses in succession, featuring another heartbreaking loss to Chicago on Wednesday in double-overtime.
“We shouldn’t put it behind us. We should use it as motivation and learn from it,” Courtney Lee said after Sunday’s game. “Going into these games, we can’t keep putting ourselves in these positions. We keep talking about the same things after games.”
Porzingis scored 25 points, although he missed a potential tying three-pointer in the closing seconds of OT. Meanwhile, Davis simply was too much to handle with a season-best 48 points and 17 rebounds, including a key bucket late in the extra session, while Jrue Holiday scored 31 for New Orleans (22-20).
The Knicks had posted a rare road win over the Pelicans on Dec. 30, but they still are just 4-15 away from MSG ahead of what usually amounts to a semi-home contest against the Nets at Barclays Center.
They won’t play at the Garden again until the end of the month (Jan. 30, also against the Nets), but Hornacek attempted to build on his optimistic assessment following Friday’s loss in Minnesota, when he stated that he believed his team was “not far off” from better competing regularly on the road.
“We think it’s an opportunity for us,” Hornacek said of the road trip. “Guys are down, they all want to win…But I told the guys in the locker room, this is an opportunity to be with each other for two straight weeks … Those are trips that, in the past, teams that I’ve been on, teams that our coaches have been on, teams that some of the players have been on, that can turn things around.”
Davis fronted the Pelicans’ turnaround from a 96-77 deficit late in the third, getting them as close as four with two free throws with barely three minutes remaining in regulation.
After Ian Clark further trimmed the Knicks’ lead to 107-105 one minute later, Enes Kanter (18 points) was credited with blocking Davis’ shot attempt underneath with 34 seconds to go.
A shot-clock violation by the Knicks gave New Orleans another chance with nine seconds left, however, and Davis tied it inside to force overtime.
Davis’ turnaround jumper from the baseline over Porzingis provided a 121-118 Pelicans lead late in the extra period, before KP clanked a three-point attempt in the closing seconds.
“We always say move on to the next game, but I think Courtney is right: we’ve got to use this game as motivation and try to do the best we can in the next if we’re in that position to lock in more, to focus in more as a team,” said Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored 25 points in 33 minutes in his first game at MSG since a leg injury in November. “Do whatever we have to do, whether it’s running more plays or pushing the ball more on the offensive end, make sure we get stops – doing the little things – diving on the floor for loose balls. I think once we do that, then we’ll find ourselves out of this hole.”