PHILADELPHIA — Tim Hardaway Jr. sat in the locker room, stewing. His terrible shooting slump is driving him crazy.
Hardaway was 0-for-8 from three-point range in the Knicks’ 108-92 loss to the 76ers on Monday night, bringing his total to 5-for-44 from outside the arc in the last seven games. That left Hardaway livid after the Knicks’ seventh consecutive defeat.
“I wish I could make a [expletive] shot,” he said. “I am frustrated. You can’t keep on letting it go. It’s too many games in a row now. I’ve got to figure it out.
“My teammates are doing a great job of encouraging me every step of the way. I’m not going to lie and sit here and laugh about it. It’s frustrating.’’
Hardaway’s shooting woes — he was 4-for-16 overall — are one of a number of things that have the Knicks (23-35) in complete freefall.
They’ve dropped 21 of their last 27, are 7-24 on the road and fell to 1-9 without Kristaps Porzingis, who is out for the season after tearing his left ACL last week. Porzingis is scheduled to have surgery Tuesday. The upshot is they could end up with a far better draft pick than anyone expected when they started 17-14.
The 76ers’ size, length and versatility were too much for the Knicks to handle, but they also had trouble keeping up with Philadelphia’s smallest player, 6-2 T.J. McConnell. McConnell, who beat the Knicks with a jumper at the buzzer last season, registered his first career triple-double. He was serenaded with “T.J.!” chants after finishing with 10 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds and six steals off the bench. That upset Hardaway, too.
“It’s not only about my shot,” he said. “It’s about other stuff that is involved in the game, whether it’s us getting a stop that’s much needed or them going on their run towards the end of the third or T.J. McConnell coming in and getting a triple-double. That can’t happen.
“He’s been playing great all season and just him being able to come in here and affect the game like he does, we should take a page out of his book. He does a great job of playing hard each and every possession. You’ve got to respect that.”
The point guard position continues to be a major weakness for the Knicks. McConnell had his way with whomever Jeff Hornacek put on him — Jarrett Jack, Emmanuel Mudiay or Frank Ntilikina. “He got up on our point guards and we weren’t able to handle that,” Hornacek said. “He got steals. He put pressure. It took us to 13 [on the shot clock] to get into any sort of play. That was disruptive. You got to be able to blow by that guy. We walked it up the court and let him use that pressure.”
Mudiay and Ntilikina had rough games on both ends. Ntilikina was scoreless and had no assists in 21 minutes. Mudiay shot 3-for-7 and had seven points and two assists in his second game with the Knicks. He missed three free throws late in the third quarter when the game still was close.
After the Knicks tied it at 73 in the third quarter, they were outscored 35-19 in the last 15:37. They totaled only 13 points in the fourth.
The 76ers took control with a Robert Covington-led 10-2 burst. He buried a three-pointer, threw down a slam in transition while being fouled by Mudiay and dunked over Michael Beasley.
Beasley scored 22 points, Courtney Lee added 18 off the bench and Enes Kanter had 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Knicks. Dario Saric scored 24 points, Joel Embiid had 17 and Ben Simmons added 13 points and six assists for the 76ers, who shot 55.4 percent from the field (41-for-74) and 52.6 percent from three-point range (10-for-19).
Hornacek replaced Lee with Lance Thomas in the starting lineup because he wanted a bigger player to guard Simmons. It didn’t work. Nothing has worked for the Knicks lately.
“It’s going to be tough for us without KP,” Hornacek said. “It was tough when he was there. Guys have to step up. We have to be tougher and scrap harder. We can’t just go out there and play.”