WASHINGTON — The Knicks probably are relieved that January is over, but more performances like Tuesday night and their season may not be too far behind.
Showing none of the passion or fight they displayed in Sunday’s quadruple-overtime loss to the Hawks, the Knicks trailed by 21 points and were drubbed 117-101 by the Wizards. The Knicks let the Wizards take control with a 16-2 run to open the third, and never looked back.
Coming into January, the Knicks talked about how critical this busy month would be for them. They went 5-12, and are now a season-worst eight games below .500, at 21-29.
“Goodbye January,” said Carmelo Anthony, who could decide to say goodbye to the Knicks and waive his no-trade clause if they don’t turn their season around. “You’ve got to dig deep and find the energy every night, even when you don’t have it, you’ve got to find it.”
The Knicks never found it Tuesday night, and were hit with bad news just before the game.
Kristaps Porzingis was a late scratch due to a stomach illness. Jeff Hornacek said Porzingis tried to play, but when he went to warm up, he felt nauseous. The Knicks announced about 20 minutes before tipoff that Porzingis was out.
They already were without Derrick Rose for the second straight game due to a sprained left ankle. Hornacek expects Rose to miss Wednesday’s game against the Nets too.
“It’s tough,” Brandon Jennings said. “I feel like every day, there’s something with the team. Injuries, of course that happens. But we just found out before the game that KP wasn’t playing so we had to shake up the lineup again.
“I just wish we had our full team, especially in a stretch like this with all these games, there are different guys going down, it is tough.”
Anthony led the Knicks with 26 points. Jennings had 21 and Willy Hernangomez finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds in his first NBA start.
The Wizards (28-20) won their 15th straight home game. Six players scored in double figures, paced by Bradley Beal’s 28 points. Markieff Morris had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and All-Star guard John Wall 15 points and 13 assists.
After Anthony scored 17 first-half points to keep the Knicks in the game, they fell apart in the third. The Wizard made seven of their first nine shots and turned a five-point halftime lead into a 75-56 hole for the Knicks.
They closed to 97-84 with 9:04 left in the game. But the Knicks gave up a layup and a three-pointer on the Wizards’ next two trips that made it 102-84.
Hornacek reinserted Anthony a little later, hoping the Knicks had a run in them. They didn’t. After a Kyle O’Quinn basket in transition, the Wizards once again scored on two straight trips and pulled ahead 106-86 with 5:45 remaining. Anthony was removed about a minute later.
“Maybe that four overtime got us, we just didn’t look like we had any energy,” Hornacek said. “It was a tough night. Every guy that went out there almost looked like they didn’t have great energy.”
Anthony backs LeBron. Anthony, who has taken umbrage with some things Charles Barkley has said about him over the years, defended his pal LeBron James after he ripped the TNT analyst in an interview with ESPN.com.
“At the end of the day, I think he’s human,” Anthony said. “We all are human. Even though we are considered these kind of superheroes, super athletes, and nothing is supposed to affect us and we just go through life just taking it on the chin, it affects us in certain ways.
“I think in his situation, maybe he just got tired of kind of just hearing it from that particular person.”
Notes & quotes: Rose was wearing a walking boot at shootaround, but he was in sneakers shooting set shots before the game. Hornacek hopes Rose can return Saturday night against the Cavaliers at the Garden. … Lance Thomas. who is still getting headaches from his fractured left orbital bone he suffered Jan. 15 against Toronto, will see a doctor Wednesday.