On a night when the Nets honored the memory of Brooklyn rapper Biggie Smalls, the home team came up big and the Knicks came up very small.
This is nothing new for the Knicks, especially this season. They’re regressing, and after their embarrassing 120-112 loss to the NBA-worst Nets on Sunday night at Barclays Center, Kristaps Porzingis said there’s mass confusion.
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The Knicks have re-emphasized the triangle offense during the last few weeks, with team president Phil Jackson teaching the guards some options within his beloved system Thursday. But Porzingis spoke candidly and said the Knicks “don’t know the triangle that well.”
Porzingis also said that with the Knicks changing what they’ve tried to build all season, they’re lost on the floor. It showed on both ends Sunday night. They fell behind by 22 and allowed a team-record 14 three-pointers in the first half.
“We’ve been switching things up because at any point of this season, we never played like we wanted to,” Porzingis said after fouling out with 19 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. “It was like, ‘Maybe this will work. Maybe this will work.’ So we’re kind of looking for stuff.
“Coaches, they obviously try to do the best job they can and give us as much as they can so we have the information. But we never really got it all together and were able to execute the way we should have. It’s been a lot of confusion.”
Porzingis said the confusion is “from top to bottom. A lot of stuff that’s not clear. So it’s hard to play like that.”
The plus side for the Knicks is that this could help them get a higher draft pick. With 15 games remaining, the Knicks (26-41) own the NBA’s seventh-worst record. But that’s of no solace to the players. Carmelo Anthony described the loss as “a bad one . . . a very bad one.”
The Knicks were humbled in front of a star-studded crowd that included Jackson, making a rare appearance at a road game, as well as Charles Oakley, actor/rapper Ice Cube and Sean “Puffy” Combs — a close friend of the Notorious B.I.G., who was shot and killed 20 years ago. (Jackson declined to speak with reporters.)
The Nets (12-53) shot 19-for-38 from three-point range and won for the first time at home in 17 games in 2017. The Knicks made a second-half run but couldn’t get enough stops — as usual.
When Anthony was asked what happened defensively, he responded, “Biggie Smalls was definitely in full effect in Brooklyn tonight. That’s all I’m going to say. His spirit was here.”
One night after taking only nine shots in a loss at Detroit, Anthony shot 26 times and made just 10, but he scored 20 of his 27 in the second half to carry the Knicks. He also surpassed 10,000 points as a Knick, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Elvin Hayes as the only players with 10,000 for two teams.
Brook Lopez made his first six three-pointers and led the Nets with 25 points. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Jeremy Lin scored 13, nine in the fourth.
Former Knick Lin was 0-for-9 heading to the fourth. But after Anthony helped cut a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit to 106-101 with 5:09 left, Lin hit a three on the next trip and scored seven points in a 10-4 run that gave the Nets a 116-105 lead. He also drew the sixth foul on Porzingis.
After Derrick Rose brought the Knicks within 118-112, Lin drove and scored to make it an eight-point game with 28.4 left.
“The situation is tough,” Porzingis said. “We’re not doing the right things. We’re just not working together right now. We need to find solutions. Whatever 16, 15 games we have left, we have to give everything we have so we can finish the season not regretting anything.”