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Saturday's loss to Hornets still tough for Knicks to take

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson dunks against the Hornets

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson dunks against the Hornets during the first half at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Two days later, the Knicks still were coming to terms with the late-game collapse at the hands of the Charlotte Hornets — which took everything going wrong on both ends of the floor to achieve.

 Clinging to a two-point lead after squandering a 15-point advantage, the Knicks saw Charlotte’s Devonte Graham convert a tough three-point field goal with 2.1 seconds to play. Frank Ntilikina took the blame, but there was another culprit on the play: Mitchell Robinson, who retreated into the lane rather than challenge the shot.

 “The scheme was for Mitch to come up,” coach David Fizdale said Monday. “But sometimes, 21 year olds don’t do exactly what you tell them to do. But it still was — I got a snapshot of the dang thing on my phone. If you look at how Frank contested that shot, that kid hit a bomb. That’s how it goes sometimes. Guys hit big shots. In fact, the game before, [Malik] Monk hit a bomb to win the game. That’s our lumps right now and eventually those will go in our favor.”

 The Knicks still had a chance, trailing by one point. But after a timeout they inbounded to Julius Randle, who dribbled into traffic and forced up an airball. Fizdale was asked why RJ Barrett wasn’t on the floor for that play, removed in favor of Wayne Ellington.

 “Just as a distraction, to try to open up the floor for Julius to have a driving lane,” Fizdale said. “Trust me, more nights than not RJ Barrett will be in the game at crunch time.”

 

Still waiting

Elfrid Payton hasn’t played since suffering a strained right hamstring on Oct. 28 in the Knicks' fourth game of the season. He remained out Monday, but Fizdale said he is getting closer.

 “He’s still day to day,” Fizdale said. “Well, he’s actually starting to do a little bit of jogging and some light running. He is doing a few pick and roll drills right now. So he’s getting there. He’s progressing. He’s just not there yet.”

 

Minor work

Knicks second-round pick Iggy Brazdeikis was moved to Westchester to play with the Knicks’ G-League affiliate Monday.

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