GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The Knicks are tied for the worst record in the NBA. They just lost to a mediocre Chicago Bulls team Tuesday after giving up a late 22-0 run. And the team’s management has made it clear that if things don’t start improving soon, there will be changes.
Yet, this was a group that looked anything but tight or under pressure in practice on Wednesday as they prepared to play former teammate Kristaps Porzingis and Dallas at Madison Square Garden.
In fact, as reporters entered the gym the entire floor seemed to be cutting up as Damyean Dotson beat Dennis Smith Jr. in a sprint across the gym. “I’m the fastest [expletive] here,” Dotson yelled as he won the race with team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry watching from courtside.
If only coach David Fizdale could get his 2-9 team to be so relaxed Thursday night when they try to get what would be only their second win of the season on their home court. Fizdale said Wednesday that he thinks part of his team’s problem is they want to win too badly — especially at home.
“Honestly, I think they want to do well for the fan base,” Fizdale said. “I think they get tight. I really do. I’ve looked at all the different things that have happened and I just and I just feel like sometimes they really want to do well for the city. I just think sometimes when it starts to go the other way, they play not to lose instead of playing to win.”
The fan base will be out in full force Thursday night as Porzingis plays his first game at Madison Square Garden since he was injured on Feb. 6, 2018. At the time of his injury, Porzingis was having an All-Star year and it seemed as if looked as though he would be a Knick for years to come.
Instead, his relationship with the team soured over the course of his rehab. The team traded him to Dallas last February and had hoped to lure other NBA stars with the hopes of eventually to big stars and quickly rebuild ing . Instead, they added some midlevel players on short contracts and they are now having trouble meshing them with their younger players.
Julius Randle, the Knicks’ top free-agent signing, was a scoring monster last year for New Orleans. As a ball dominant, ballhandling forward this year, his scoring average has dropped. He’s gone from 21.4 points per game last season to 15.6 points this season. Against the Bulls, Randle was 5-for-15 and had 17 points with two turnovers. “I just want him to get better at what he’s doing, that’s all,” Fizdale said when asked if he thought about making changes to the way Randle is being used. “For three quarters, he made some great decisions . . . It’s just when the game starts to get tight, he has the urge to [say] I’m going to do this for us.”
Randle thinks things eventually will start clicking for both him and his teammates.
“Yeah, it has to, it has to,” Randle said. “We work too hard, we have too many good guys with the right intentions in this group. I think it has to.”
Notes & quotes: Mitchell Robinson, who has been out since suffering a concussion last Wednesday, is questionable for the Dallas game.