ATLANTA — Carmelo Anthony was in the locker room while the Knicks were battling through a close game that they could have won and maybe would have if their best scorer hadn’t been thrown out.
Anthony was ejected in the first half after forearming Thabo Sefolosha in the face. Without him, the Knicks came up short, falling to the Hawks, 102-98, in overtime Wednesday night in the start of a three-game road trip.
The Knicks, who lost for the fifth time in seven games to drop to 16-15, were kicking themselves afterward because they had many chances to win the game.
But without Anthony, they had trouble scoring in the fourth quarter. They led by four in the fourth but made just three field goals over the last 6:56 of regulation.
In overtime Derrick Rose coughed the ball up with 8.9 seconds left and the Knicks down one. Then with 3.6 seconds to go, Kristaps Porzingis was fouled shooting a three-pointer with the Knicks trailing by three.
Porzingis missed the first free throw. He made the second, and missed the third on purpose. But he was called for a lane violation, giving the ball back to the Hawks. Paul Millsap iced the game with two foul shots with three seconds to go.
“I’m super disappointed I missed such an important free throw,” Porzingis said. “But I have to move on. We have 82 games. It’s not like this is life or death, although this was an important game for us. I missed the important free throws. I got to get better.”
So do the Knicks.
Rose scored a game-high 26 points, but he shot just 9-for-28 and had the costly turnover.
He was double-teamed on the baseline and was trying to get the ball to Porzingis. But Rose fell, Sefolosha got the steal and Dennis Schroder was fouled. He made both from the line to make it 100-97 with six seconds left.
“I slipped and Thabo was able to get his hand on the ball and for the steal,” Rose said. “We had a chance to win the game. I put a lot of that on myself. I felt like some plays I might make the right play. But you live and you learn.”
Porzingis finished with 24 points and got into it with Dwight Howard. Joakim Noah had 14 points and 16 rebounds, and Justin Holiday scored 14 off the bench. Anthony left with 10 points and wouldn’t comment after the game.
“I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow,” Anthony said.
Schroder had 27 to lead Atlanta. Howard scored 16 and grabbed 22 rebounds.
It was a hotly contested game. There were five technical fouls — including a critical one on Jeff Hornacek with 2:22 left in overtime — two flagrants and one ejection.
Hornacek became incensed after Paul Millsap spun and pushed off on Porzingis and knocked him down. Hornacek wanted an offensive foul, but didn’t get one. After Millsap fed Dwight Howard for a dunk, Kyle Korver made the technical foul shot for a 95-89 lead.
“Millsap had his arm out and hit him right in the chest, no call. That’s why I got a little upset,” Hornacek said. “I told our guys I can’t get a technical in that situation. Close game, point here or there can make a difference. Although I didn’t agree with the call, I shouldn’t have gotten a technical.”
The Knicks already were without starting shooting guard Courtney Lee with a wrist injury, and then they lost Anthony with more than 27 minutes remaining in the game.
Anthony was ejected with 3:08 left in the second quarter after getting tangled with Sefolosha for a rebound. Anthony had his hands near Sefolosha’s neck and then hit him in the face with a forearm. Sefolosha pushed Anthony in retaliation.
The referees reviewed the play and whistled Anthony for a Flagrant Foul 2, which is an automatic ejection. It was his second ejection of the season. Anthony also was thrown out in the first half of the Knicks’ Nov. 11 loss in Boston.
But the Knicks didn’t fold like they did in Boston, when they lost by 28. They just gave away the game with poor offensive execution.
“Oh man, it’s killing us,” Porzingis said. “I know it’s killing everybody in the locker room right now. We’re just not there yet. The type of team we are, how good we can, we shouldn’t even be in the position we were at the end.”