The current Knicks showed some fight Wednesday night at the Garden, too. But it wasn’t enough.
Blake Griffin scored 32 points and DeAndre Jordan had 28 as the Knicks let a 10-point fourth-quarter lead slip away in a 119-115 loss to the Clippers.
Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points and Kristaps Porzingis had 27 for the Knicks.
“We competed,” said Derrick Rose, who had 20 points and eight assists. “But the end result was the same. We lost.”
While the game was as high-scoring and entertaining as any the Knicks have played this season, the buzz in the arena was more about the arrest of former Knicks forward Charley Oakley after an altercation directly behind the seats of team owner James Dolan.
The first-quarter incident was broadcast live on ESPN’s nationally televised coverage of the game. Videos were immediately shared on social media and jokes about the 53-year-old Oakley continuing to be a bruiser were immediately shared, as well.
But the Knicks did not find the incident amusing. The team said in a statement that Oakley “behaved in a highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner.”
The Knicks, after leading for most of the second half, fell behind 109-107 with 3:28 left. But consecutive dunks by Porzingis put the Knicks back on top, 111-109, with 1:55 left.
From there, the Clippers scored seven straight points, including a go-ahead three-pointer by former Knick Jamal Crawford (20 points) to give Los Angeles a 114-111 lead. Anthony later hit a three-pointer to bring the Knicks to within two at 116-114, but they got no closer and fell to 22-32.
Anthony missed a potential game-tying three with eight seconds left.
“The effort was there, the fight was there,” Anthony said. “We just couldn’t pull it out at the end.”
The game also was played against the continuing backdrop of the Anthony-Phil Jackson situation, with the Knicks’ star player declining before the game to discuss the team president’s latest disparaging tweet.
Coach Jeff Hornacek did address it, though, and he was willing to label his boss’ Twitter post from Tuesday a possible “distraction” for the struggling team. But Hornacek added he was much more concerned about matters on the court.
Hornacek, who aired out his team after Monday’s 121-107 loss to the Lakers, said he was curious to see how the Knicks came out after a hard practice on Tuesday. “We had been playing OK,” Hornacek said. “We laid an egg against the Lakers. Typically, that next game back when guys play like that — and they themselves felt they didn’t have it, didn’t give that energy — and then you come in and have a practice like we did [Tuesday], I expect them to play hard and go after it and be alert. I’m kind of looking forward to Tonight’s game to see how they react and respond after the last game.”
Hornacek had to be pleased with Porzingis, who said he didn’t feel like he was a part of the offense against the Lakers. Hornacek reminded the second-year player scoring can come from getting after offensive rebounds or steals and not just in the set offense.
So Porzingis’ first basket last night was a putback off an offensive rebound. Then he hit a pair of threes en route to a 17-point first half.
The problem for the Knicks was Porzingis’ early defense, or lack thereof, against Griffin, who had 18 of Los Angeles’ 36 first-quarter points.
The Clippers were without Chris Paul, who is out after thumb surgery. Anthony, meanwhile, did not take his first shot until nearly five minutes into the game. He finished the half with 16 points as the Knicks went into halftime trailing 68-67.
Notes & quotes: Hornacek said Joakim Noah (hamstring) is unlikely to return for tomorrow’s game vs. Denver . . . Lance Thomas (fractured orbital bone) is expected to begin contact drills soon, Hornacek said.