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Knicks clinch fourth straight losing season with loss to Nets

New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek coaches

New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek coaches against the Brooklyn Nets during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, March 16, 2017. Credit: Brad Penner

The Knicks put the exclamation point on Jeff Hornacek’s concession speech from Tuesday and clinched a losing record for the fourth straight year Thursday night.

For the second time in five days, the Knicks fell to the Nets as a lethargic second-half effort led to a 121-110 loss to the NBA’s worst team at the Garden. It didn’t sit well in the Knicks’ locker room, nor did what has happened to this team.

The Knicks had high expectations, but this embarrassing loss dropped them to 27-42. They have not had a winning record since Phil Jackson became president nearly three years ago.

“It’s tough,” said Carmelo Anthony, the only player who has been a part of all four losing seasons. “I don’t want to use the word frustrating, but it’s tough to just kind of be in that situation. That’s all I can say about that.”

Anthony said this season was the toughest because he believed the Knicks would contend.

“Every year you come in with the mindset and the hope of being successful and having a good year, having a good team and having faith in the group of guys you have around you,” he said. “This year it’s a little disappointing due to the talent that we have. But yeah, it’s more difficult this season than it has been in the past.”

The Knicks began 14-10 and were 16-13 Dec. 22 — the last time they won back-to-back games. They are 11-29 since then.

All that’s left is to be eliminated from playoff contention for the fourth straight season. They’re 6½ games out with 13 to play. Hornacek said Tuesday that the playoffs are basically out of reach and that the Knicks will start building for next season. But he still is playing his veterans and said he will continue to do so unless he’s told otherwise by management.

Anthony, Courtney Lee, Lance Thomas and Derrick Rose each played at least 33 minutes and Kyle O’Quinn and Justin Holiday played more than 25 Thursday night in one of the Knicks’ worst losses of the season.

The Knicks, who were without Kristaps Porzingis (left thigh bruise), led by seven at the half, but their defense vanished and the Nets (13-54) raised their game. The Knicks gave up 38 points in the third quarter and were outscored 67-49 in the second half. The Nets, who dropped 120 and 121 on the Knicks in the two games, led by 14 in the fourth quarter.

“It doesn’t sit well,” O’Quinn said after leading the Knicks with 23 points. “It’s tough. A team like that, you look at the roster, they shouldn’t be in the gym with us, I feel. But they played hard. It’s March. Anybody can win in March.”

Rose added 22 points and Anthony had 17, but he shot 6-for-18 and was scoreless in the fourth. Brook Lopez scored 24 to pace the Nets.

It was the Knicks’ last game before opening a four-game western trip Monday against the Clippers. Porzingis, who hurt his leg in Tuesday’s win over Indiana, believes he will be well enough to play by then.

Porzingis said he wants to keep playing whether the Knicks are eliminated or not. “If I’m healthy, I want to be playing,” he said. “I want to be out there. That’s not even a question.”

Notes & quotes: The Knicks held a moment of silence for Dave Stallworth, who died Wednesday at age 75. He was the Knicks’ third overall pick in 1965 and played on their 1969-70 championship team.


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