The way the Knicks have been playing, you can’t blame Carmelo Anthony if he waives his no-trade clause or blame management if it chooses to explore shaking up the team.
Playing against one of the worst teams in the NBA on Monday night, the Knicks put forth their worst performance of the season. They played with little effort or energy and were humbled by the Lakers, 121-107, at Madison Square Garden.
“That was embarrassing,” Brandon Jennings said. “You can’t coach effort and energy. That’s something we should all have. We all make millions of dollars playing this game, so the least we can do is go out there and play hard every night.”
The Knicks (22-31) were booed loudly several times because of their lack of passion and interest in competing. They trailed by double-digits the last 34:10 of the game, were out rebounded 55-40 and were outscored 64-38 in the paint and 27-4 in second-chance points.
“You’ve got to play for some pride,” an angry Jeff Hornacek said. “If you’re just going to come out and just play basketball, then you’re at the wrong level. These teams come in — it’s New York, so they’re going to be ready to play. If you don’t match their effort and their energy, you’re not going to win. Right from the start they out-hustled us.”
“That’s the worst we’ve looked all season,” Jennings said.
Anthony led the Knicks with 26 points. Kristaps Porzingis added 16 but shot just 5-for-14. Derrick Rose was 2-for-8 with five points after missing four games with a sprained left ankle.
Lou Williams had 22 points to lead seven players in double figures for the Lakers (18-36).
After Saturday night’s loss to the Cavaliers, Anthony sounded as beaten and demoralized as he had all season, saying his will is being tested. He seemed to be in a worse place Monday night after the Knicks’ 18th loss in 24 games.
“I think our mentality, our attitude, throughout the course of the game, approaching the game, I think that has to change,” Anthony said. “Overall, the effort just wasn’t there from the beginning to the end. This was a bad performance.”
It was a bad look for a team that keeps saying it can make a playoff run and doesn’t want management to make changes.
Anthony continues to be the subject of trade rumors. The Daily News reported that LeBron James is pushing for the Cavaliers to acquire his good buddy Anthony even if it means parting with Kevin Love. The Knicks are interested in Love, but the Cavaliers have been reluctant to move him.
“He’s not going anywhere,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue told Cleveland reporters.
James called the report “trash.”
Another team the Knicks have spoken to, the Clippers, will visit the Garden on Wednesday night. Chris Paul is one of Anthony’s closest friends. It wouldn’t be surprising if Paul is urging management to get Anthony.
In both cases, it might require a third team to get a deal done, and Anthony still has to agree to waive his no-trade clause.
He was in no mood to talk about his future Monday night, cutting off the question before it was completed. “I’m not thinking about that,” he said.
After the Knicks drew within 15 four minutes into the third quarter, they allowed the Lakers to go on a 14-2 run. Nick Young’s transition jumper with 4:45 left made it 83-56, and he finished with a shimmy, humiliating the Knicks further.
“Pride, effort, however you want to put it, it just wasn’t there,” Anthony said. “My word is effort. Coach’s word is pride. It just wasn’t there.”
“You got to play with some pride. If you’re going to come out and just play basketball you’re at the wrong level.”
— Jeff Hornacek
“They came to play, we didn’t. This was a bad performance.”
— Carmelo Anthony