The Knicks didn't run in the New York City Marathon, but they started Sunday night's game against the Timberwolves as if they had. They looked lethargic, played sloppily and fell behind by 21 points in the first quarter, leading to a loud chorus of boos.
Then they almost turned everything around with a late charge that had the Garden fans on the edge of their seats. But Carmelo Anthony and the rest of the Knicks went cold late and lost to Minnesota, 109-100, dropping below .500 for the first time in about 20 months.
"You just can't come out on your home court and dig a hole of 21 points, spot a team," coach Mike Woodson said. "Then you got to fight so tough to get back into the game."
The Knicks did, nearly erasing a 23-point third-quarter hole and drawing within 100-98 with 4:49 remaining. But they shot 1-for-7 and were outscored 9-2 to end the game.
Anthony led the Knicks with 22 points and 17 rebounds but shot 8-for-21. His final points came with 5:55 remaining. He missed his last three shots, committed a turnover with 2:34 left and fouled Kevin Love on a three-point attempt 25 seconds later.
"Offensively, we were a little behind, off a little bit, trying to get in sync," Anthony said.
The Knicks fell to 1-2, marking the first time they've been under .500 since March 24, 2012, when they were 24-25. That was seven games after Woodson replaced Mike D'Antoni as coach. The Knicks started 6-0 last season.
These Knicks' looked a little like one of D'Antoni's teams, especially the way they defended. After giving up 83 and 81 points in the first two games, the Knicks yielded 40 points in the first quarter to Minnesota (3-0) and 93 through three quarters, and couldn't slow down Love or Kevin Martin.
Love had 34 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. Martin hit all five three-pointers he attempted and scored 30 points. "You can't let two guys come in our arena and get 30 points," Woodson said. "That can't happen."
Metta World Peace had 17 off the bench and Andrea Bargnani added 14, but he played only 4:41 in the second half and not at all in the fourth quarter.
The Knicks forced the offense throughout the game instead of moving the ball. Rookie Tim Hardaway Jr., who had a thunderous third-quarter dunk, was 0-for-7 from three-point range. The Knicks shot just 9-for-32 from outside the arc.
"We got to make two, three, four passes before the shot is actually jacked up," Woodson said. "At least have good court balance."
The Knicks were careless with the ball, didn't rotate or react quickly defensively and didn't work nearly as hard as the Timberwolves at the outset.
The first boos rained down after J.J. Barea's steal led to a fast-break layup by Love that made it an 18-point game. It was part of a 32-8 run that ended the first quarter and put the Knicks in a 40-19 hole.
"It's tough to swallow," Woodson said.
After Iman Shumpert drilled a three-pointer to make it 100-98, Pablo Prigioni was called for a technical foul for touching the ball while the Timberwolves were inbounding it. Martin hit the technical free throw and then drilled a three. After two straight Knicks misses, Love hit a tough bank shot that made it 106-98 with 3:19 left.
"We can't come out that way and expect to win," Tyson Chandler said. "We came back and won every other quarter. If we start the game correct, then we win the basketball game."