Blake Griffin electrified the Garden crowd with two emphatic dunks and elicited reactions with a three-pointer and some tough baskets inside.
The loudest responses the Knicks got from their fans were boos. They played lethargically and looked inept at times Friday night in a 109-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
After appearing to turn the corner by winning six of their first seven games in January, the Knicks (15-25) have lost three straight. They're playing like the team they were in November and December, and sounding the alarm in a similar way.
"It's a little bit of a concern for myself," said Carmelo Anthony, who had 26 points and 20 rebounds but shot 4-for-23. "I don't want to go back to that place. I felt like we were making strides forward. Hopefully we can continue making those strides forward."
A lack of defense was the issue in the previous two games, but the Knicks lacked many things Friday night and began their season-high eight-game homestand in embarrassing fashion. The score was tied at 50 at halftime, but they were outscored 26-17 in the third quarter and gave up 59 points in the second half.
"I thought we fatigued in that third quarter,'' coach Mike Woodson said. "We were dragging. And we had no answer.''
The Knicks followed their 28-point loss Thursday in Indiana by falling behind by 19 in the fourth to the Clippers, still without Chris Paul because of a separated shoulder. The Knicks never got closer than 14 after that, falling to 7-13 at home.
"This is hard to deal with," Anthony said. "I've never dealt with anything like this before, but I'm learning a lot throughout this process and my head is going to continue to stay high and be positive and just take it one day at a time."
The Knicks, who were without Amar'e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin because of ankle injuries, had 20 turnovers and shot 29-for-83 (34.9 percent) -- and that percentage would have been much worse if J.R. Smith (24 points) hadn't shot 6-for-8 in a 15-point fourth quarter.
On one fourth-quarter possession, the Knicks got five shots, four of them in the paint, with Anthony and Tyson Chandler crashing the boards. But each missed two putbacks.
Chandler (12 points, 14 rebounds) said the coaches and players need to work harder for the Knicks to fix what ails them.
"It's about us coming together and understanding our personnel and what works best for us on the basketball court," he said. "It's collectively from the coaches down, coaches and players. What happens is normally when things like this happen, you start to shift blame -- this player or that player or whatever. It's all of us. Everybody in this locker room and every coach that's signed on with the Knicks' organization, all of our faults and we got to take it."
Griffin was brilliant with 32 points and 12-for-20 shooting. Former Knick Jamal Crawford added 29 points in 28:54 off the bench, shooting 5-for-9 from three-point range.
The Knicks went 8:20 without a field goal spanning the second and third quarters. On back-to-back possessions, Anthony hit a three-pointer and Andrea Bargnani sank a jumper to give the Knicks a 63-60 lead with 5:09 left in the third, but they didn't make a shot from the field for the rest of the quarter.
The Clippers brought a 76-67 lead into the fourth quarter and opened the quarter with DeAndre Jordan blocking Raymond Felton's three-pointer and then leaking ahead for an alley-oop slam. It began a 17-8 run that gave the Clippers a 93-75 lead with 7:26 left.
"It was just a situation where we kind of went away from what was working well in the first half," Chandler said. "We struggled to score and then they start piling on punches and it seems like every shot they hit is like a five-point play because we're really struggling to score."