As the first half ended Thursday night, the Knicks left the court at Madison Square Garden — some unwillingly.
In the final 30 seconds of the half, Kemba Walker and Julius Randle picked up technical fouls. After the latter technical, Evan Fournier tried to guide Randle to the locker room and away from the officials, and Randle angrily smacked his arm away.
If anyone thought that would portend a second-half wake-up call for a Knicks team that had been outplayed by the New Orleans Pelicans in the first half, it didn’t work out that way. The Knicks saw a four-point halftime deficit balloon to 24 in the third quarter, and as the fans let them have it, they were much louder than Walker and Randle had been in piling up the technicals.
There were the usual calls for Obi Toppin and boos for the team, but there was no solution for the Knicks on this night. No one was going to save them. Instead, the anger turned to resignation as they dropped an embarrassing 102-91 decision to the Pelicans to fall to 22-24. It was their third straight loss in a span of four days, all at home.
The Pelicans are 17-28.
Fighting the officials or among each other was as much intensity as the Knicks displayed. Randle appeared the most frustrated and was the object of much of the fans’ ire. He did not speak for the seventh straight game, with the team responding to media requests by announcing, "We are not making Julius available.’’
"You look at, we got to the line a ton," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "So I don’t want to put it on the officiating. It’s not that. We just have to play better.
"When things aren’t going your way, it’s easy to get sidetracked. It’s easy to get distracted in this league, and that’s what we can’t do. We can’t place blame. We’ve got to work our way out of this, work our way out together."
The offense was a mess, relying on three-point shooting to get them back into the game, but they shot 4-for-25 through three quarters. Even with a late run, they finished 9-for-38 from beyond the arc.
The Knicks were outscored 35-15 in the third quarter, and after falling behind by 25 points early in the fourth, they couldn’t get any closer than nine — and that was with 36.7 seconds left.
RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson (15 rebounds) had 17 points apiece. Randle had four points and shot 1-for-9. Walker shot 1-for-5 and Fournier was 2-for-8.
"Losing is frustrating," Barrett said. "If we didn’t feel like that, then there would be a problem.
The spirit of wanting to win . . . More than X’s and O’s, our will, sometimes just got to will the game, sometimes got to do whatever it takes to win. Sometimes it’s not pretty."
Randle did not score a point until a free throw with 1:50 left in the first half, and his only field goal came on a tip-in of his own missed shot at the buzzer to end the half. On the previous possession, Randle had a shot smothered by Jonas Valanciunas (18 points, 10 rebounds) and chastised the officials. Walker was hit with a technical foul by Ray Acosta while Randle was arguing.
Randle then tipped in the shot at the buzzer and it appeared there was contact on that one, too. He screamed at official Mitchell Ervin, drawing a technical
"The main thing, I’m happy I see guys [ticked] off about it rather than just joking about it, laughing about it," Taj Gibson said. "We’ve got some serious guys in the locker room that really want to do well. Nights like this hurt. You can point fingers, be [ticked]. The next day you’ve got to get up, get back ready and try to shore up the mistakes you made last game and try to come back even harder."