INDIANAPOLIS — The Knicks had better hope Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. aren’t out for an extended period, or they could have a lengthy losing streak.
It’s up to two games after the Knicks put up little fight Monday night. They trailed by 38 points and lost to the Indiana Pacers, 115-97, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Neither Porzingis (sprained right ankle) nor Hardaway (stress injury, lower left leg) made the trip to Indiana. But even some of the Knicks who made the trip were absent.
“Overall, we just did nothing well,” Enes Kanter said. “We just played soft, we had no energy.”
Playing the second game of a back-to-back, the Knicks fell behind by 26 at the half and saw the deficit balloon to 78-40 when Indiana opened the third quarter with 12 consecutive points. That’s when Jeff Hornacek had seen enough.
Just 2:28 into the quarter, Hornacek removed the five starters — Jarrett Jack, Courtney Lee, Damyean Dotson, Michael Beasley and Kanter — and replaced them with Frank Ntilikina, Ramon Sessions, Ron Baker, Lance Thomas and Willy Hernangomez.
“We was playing bad,” Beasley said. “That’s what the coach is supposed to do. Put guys in the game that at least look like they want to play.”
The only starter Hornacek re-inserted in the game was Dotson. “The writing was on the wall. We’re not going to win that game,” Hornacek said. “So I gave some of these other guys a chance.”
Kanter, who had an off game with seven points and six rebounds, wasn’t happy that he didn’t get a chance to finish the game.
“It was just frustrating because everybody out there is competing and trying to compete,” he said. “When he takes all five out, that means we’re not competing out there. So we just need to show more effort.”
The Knicks (11-12), who dropped below .500 for the first time since they were 3-4, haven’t given a timetable on either Porzingis or Hardaway. Hornacek said Hardaway’s leg still is being evaluated and hopes to have an update Tuesday or Wednesday. But anything with “stress” in it doesn’t sound good.
In the two games without Porzingis and Hardaway, the Knicks have been down by double-figures in the first quarter. “They had more energy. They were quicker to everything,” Hornacek said. “Indiana was just better.”
Hernangomez led the Knicks with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Beasley was the lone starter in double figures with 13 points in 14 minutes. Doug McDermott added 12.
Seldom-used Joakim Noah appeared in only his second game and had three points, four rebounds and three assists in eight fourth-quarter minutes. Lee, who had flu-like symptoms, scored eight points.
Thaddeus Young’s 20 points led seven Pacers in double digits. Bojan Bogdanovic added 19.
Beasley was the only Knick to get anything going offensively early, scoring 13 points in 12 first-half minutes. He’s making a case to stay in the rotation even when Porzingis returns, but Hornacek would like to see him take better care of the ball. He had five turnovers against the Pacers.
Beasley’s defense also needs work, but few Knicks gave enough effort on that side of the court.
“You’re missing two of your top scorers,” Hornacek said. “You’ve got to do it with defense.”
Indiana scored 66 points in the first half, shooting 63.4 percent overall and 64.3 percent from three-point range. They outscored the Knicks 27-3 on three-pointers in the half.
“We didn’t have enough energy,” Kanter said. “We didn’t play with enough energy the whole game.”