New York Knicks: Celtics run the floor in game that never felt in doubt

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks dropped a game to the Boston Celtics that never felt within their reach.

For a second, the New York Knicks garnered some momentum this season, winning three consecutive games. It seemed like an anomaly, given their play beforehand and the preseason expectations, but Emmanuel Mudiay‘s resurgence, Allonzo Trier‘s rise and Trey Burke‘s eye-opening return off the bench provided some hope for this developmental process.

Well, the Knicks entered Thursday’s game at 1-3 since the winning streak. The offense inevitably wasn’t able to offset the defensive issues, including allowing over 117 points to the Philadelphia 76ers and 136 to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Against the Celtics, New York let them pour on 128 points on 53.3 percent shooting, as Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Jayson Tatum all had their way with this questionable defensive unit. They were on all game, and the Knicks had some first-half positives, reaching 58 points to Boston’s 69.

Otherwise, Tim Hardaway Jr., Mudiay, Kevin Knox and Trier all delivered poor shooting nights. Enes Kanter and Noah Vonleh each achieved a double-double, but it was quiet amid the wide scoring margin in the second half.

Perhaps the most noteworthy part of the night, Frank Ntilikina did not play or the third consecutive game. Before tip-off, head coach David Fizdale told Marc Berman of The New York Post, “We have to know who’s moving forward out of this group.”

"“I got a front office that supports me in that,” Fizdale said regarding his tough lineup decisions in reference to Ntilikina. “We have to know who’s moving forward out of this group. And it won’t be every single player on this roster, unfortunately. That’s the nature of the business. We have to come out of this year knowing who those guys it’s going to be moving forward with us.”"

Given Ntilikina’s 5.9 points on 33.3 percent shooting and 25.7 percent on three-pointers, that’s not a great sign for his outlook.

Fizdale played the seldom-used Luke Kornet ahead of Ntilikina in the game’s final minutes, when the Knicks were down by over 20 points. That appeared to be a low-pressure opportunity to let the 20-year-old play, but it’s onto the next game to see if he sees the floor.

With all this, the Knicks are 8-18 and among the worst teams, record-wise, in the NBA. They’re trending down, but if any hope remains moving forward, it’s with a light schedule that includes the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns. Once that Milwaukee Bucks rematch arrives on Christmas, it will be difficult for Fizdale’s group to make up any lost ground.

  • Mario Hezonja continues to provide frustrating results from the starting lineup. Before his three points on 1-for-4 shooting, he had just 5.5 points and 2.8 rebounds on 33.3 percent shooting as a starter.
  • Hardaway shot below 40 percent for the sixth time in seven games. It’s almost necessary for him to shoot at a high volume on this team, but few performances have resulted in positives of late.
  • Mitchell Robinson picked up another four fouls, but he still finished with seven points, eight rebounds and two blocks in 20 minutes. Don’t overlook this pass from Mudiay, though:
  • Damyean Dotson‘s torrid run ended. He shot just 2-for-11 off the bench for five points.

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The New York Knicks will return on Saturday, Dec. 8 vs. the Brooklyn Nets at 7:30 p.m. ET.