CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kristaps Porzingis was a spectator again Monday night, but he probably wanted to avert his eyes. The Knicks’ performance was tough to watch.
Porzingis tested his sore left knee during shootaround, but he still felt pain, so he sat out the second straight game.
Minus Porzingis and with Tim Hardaway Jr. still sidelined with a stress injury in his lower left leg, the Knicks didn’t only miss shots. They were missing defense, effort and a sense of urgency without their two best players and were crushed, 109-91, by the Hornets at the Spectrum Center.
“Man, that’s not an excuse,” veteran guard Jarrett Jack said. “Teams in the league go through it. Injuries are part of this. You deal with it. You step up and you figure it out. That’s what the NBA season is all about.
“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us, it’s a very unforgiving league. They’re not going to feel sorry for us and we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. That’s not how we’re going to get this thing going.”
The Knicks (16-14) couldn’t get anything going. The trailed by 27 points, and they were down double digits the last 34:54.
During a 12:37 stretch between the first and second quarters, the Hornets outscored the Knicks 43-14 and the Knicks never recovered. Their four-game game winning streak came to an embarrassing end as their road woes continue. They dropped to 2-9 on the road — eight of those losses have been by double digits.
If the Knicks don’t figure out quickly how to win away from Madison Square Garden, the season could start to get away from them in the near future. Starting on Dec. 27, the Knicks play 16 of 20 games on the road.
“At some point, we have to say enough is enough and compete the same way on the road,” Courtney Lee said after a 1-for-8, two-point night. “Nothing is changing in what we’re running, what we’re trying to do, what we’re looking for out there. We just have to bring the same energy and play at a high level.”
Michael Beasley, who started in place of Porzingis again, led the Knicks with 23 points. Jack added 12 and Enes Kanter 11 points. The Knicks shot just 41.9 percent from the field and missed 15 of 18 three-points.
Frank Kaminsky led all scorers with 24 points off the bench. He shot 10-for-13 from the field, including 4 of 6 on three-pointers. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Dwight Howard had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Hornets (11-19) outrebounded the Knicks by 10, and held an 18-0 edge in second-chance points. The Knicks came into the game ranked second in the league, scoring 15 second-chance points a game.
The Knicks actually led 19-15 eight minutes into the game. But they made just five of their next 24 shots. The Knicks missed four layups in the first two minutes of the second and five overall in that quarter.
They compounded things by getting outworked inside and let the Hornets get any shot they wanted. The Knicks trailed 58-33 with 3:21 left in the half.
“We let our missed shots determine how we play on defense,” Beasley said.
“It’s definitely contagious,” Lee said. “We can’t hang our heads after missed shots we still have to get on the other end and compete.
Porzingis was hoping he could return Monday. He said he was feeling “much better” and “making progress every day.” The Knicks don’t play again until Thursday with those extra days to get rest and treatment there’s a chance Porzingis can return then. Porzingis injured his knee in Thursday’s win over the Nets.
He tried to play Saturday in Carmelo Anthony’s return to Madison Square Garden with the Thunder. But Porzingis said he felt “a pinch” while doing certain moves, particularly on post-ups, so the doctors kept him out. Jeff Hornacek said Porzingis felt the same on Monday.
Porzingis said he never underwent an MRI after suffering the injury because the doctors didn’t think it was that serious.
“I trust the doctors,” Porzingis said. “I don’t think it’s anything, I don’t think it’s necessary to do a real test. Sore knee, little bit of swelling, this and that. So just doctors checked out. I’m day-to-day.”