The Knicks had suffered their most crushing defeat of the season just Wednesday, falling to the Bulls in double overtime at Madison Square Garden after building an 11-point lead. Then they faced the Pelicans on Sunday at the Garden and blew that one out of the water.
After building a 19-point lead late in the third quarter, the Knicks had to work overtime and wound up suffering their new most crushing defeat of the season.
New Orleans departed with a 123-118 win after Anthony Davis turned in an XL-sized 48-point, 17-rebound effort and Jrue Holiday scored nine of his 31 points in the extra session.
The Knicks (19-24), who led by 14 early in the fourth quarter and never trailed until overtime, suffered their 10th loss in 12 games and fell five games under .500 for the first time this season.
“Today a quote popped in my mind and that was: ‘A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor,’ ” Kristaps Porzingis said. “We just have to stay positive and try to find something positive in this loss. It’s a process that won’t happen in one day.”
But the ship be sinking right now, as former Knicks guard Micheal Ray Richardson once famously said. The Knicks need to find a way to close out games, because their season seems to be on the brink. They will start a seven-game road swing Monday in Brooklyn with a 4-15 record away from home, and they’ll be coming off a very difficult loss.
“Just got to forget about it and move on to the next one,” Jarrett Jack said. “Short memory, which sounds like a broken record with us at the moment.”
But Courtney Lee disagreed with the prescription of amnesia. “We shouldn’t put it behind us,” he said. “We should use it as motivation and learn from it.”
Porzingis had 25 points and a career-high five steals, and Tim Hardaway Jr. had 25 points off the bench. Jack contributed a season-high 22 points along with eight assists. Enes Kanter had 18 points and 10 rebounds. And all that still wasn’t enough.
DeMarcus Cousins (15 points, 16 rebounds, seven steals) hit a layup with 3:43 left in overtime for the Pelicans’ first lead of the game. When Holiday sank a jumper from just inside the foul line, New Orleans (22-20) led 118-117 with 1:52 remaining. After Porzingis and Jack missed, the 6-11 Davis didn’t, making a tough baseline jumper over Porzingis for a three-point advantage.
With the score 121-118, Porzingis missed a three-pointer with 11.8 seconds left and Holiday made two free throws to set the final margin.
“We showed resilience, toughness, mental toughness,” said Davis, who played 50 minutes. “We feel like we owed the Knicks after they came into our home [Dec. 30] and beat us in a game we feel like we should’ve won.”
After outscoring the Pelicans 39-34 in the third quarter to begin the fourth with a 14-point lead, the Knicks saw the Pelicans move within 109-107 on Cousins’ layup with 1:07 left.
The Knicks were charged with a shot-clock violation with 9.9 seconds remaining when Porzingis’ jumper didn’t hit the rim, and Davis hit a layup over Porzingis to tie it at 109 with 3.5 seconds on the clock. After a timeout, E’Twaun Moore picked off Jack’s inbounds pass from the sideline and took off upcourt but missed an open three at the buzzer.
“You’ve got to go take wins,” Jeff Hornacek said. “You can’t think you’re just going to fall into them.”
Hardaway hit a 12-footer to give the Knicks a 19-point lead at 96-77 with 1:22 left in the third, but it was downhill from there. “I think we relaxed,” he said. A 17-4 run got the Pelicans back in the game at 100-94.
“So many similar games like this,” Porzingis said. “It’s painful.”