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Knicks have no defense, and no Ntilikina again

Head coach David Fizdale congratulates Mario Hezonja #8

Head coach David Fizdale congratulates Mario Hezonja #8 of the New York Knicks against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on Wednesday, Oct 3, 2018.  Credit: Steven Ryan

BOSTON — From the opening tip, no matter how the Knicks fought, they never were able to slow the Celtics’ offense, giving up 38 points in the first quarter and 99 through three in their 128-100 loss on Thursday night.

Said Knicks coach David Fizdale, “Terrible defense tonight. We were Swiss cheese.”

Why not try Frank Ntilikina, the defensive-minded guard who sat out for the third straight game? “Maybe,” Fizdale said. “I probably should have.”

Ntilikina quickly left the locker room without speaking.

“I can always look at him,” Fizdale said. “It ain’t like he’s out, though. Again, it’s going to be a long season. Frank will be getting his opportunities again.”


The waiting game

Kristaps Porzingis certainly will take a starting spot when he’s ready, but just when that will be, no one is quite certain. Asked if he can see Porzingis, who has been sidelined since suffering a torn ACL on Feb. 6, 2017, joining the team in practice this month, Fizdale — who drew Porzingis’ ire the last time he spoke about his progress — wasn’t answering. “I got no comment on that one,” he said. “I don’t know where that’s going to be at. When I get him, I’ll be happy.”   

Happy with Hezonja

The Knicks kept their starting lineup intact for the ninth straight game, including Mario Hezonja.

Hezonja averaged only 5.5 points and shot 33.0 percent in the first eight games, but Fizdale has seen something else.

“I love the way he’s defending,” he said. “That’s the thing at that position — setting a good tone for that big wing position. I’ve really been happy the way he’s been competing that way. And he’s been getting some stuff easy in transition when we need some easy baskets.''

Hezonja has never been known for his defense. Even this season, he isn’t among the team’s best defenders.

“Once we got him in camp, he had a competitive streak about it,'' Fizdale said. "He doesn’t do everything technically right. I don’t expect him to. He’s not afraid to compete and compete against the best. That’s the thing I really like about him.”


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