Karpin: Third Time Is Not A Charm For Knicks

With every excruciating loss, the Knicks’ hopes to make the playoffs get slimmer. There’s no getting around it, this one hurt, not to mention it was ugly.

It took a little longer, 58 minutes, but the Knicks dropped a 122-119 double overtime decision to the Bulls at the Garden last night. It was the third straight close defeat to Chicago who has beaten the Knicks by a total of 10 points in the three games.

The same ol’ problems continued to haunt the Knicks who fell to 19-22 at the nominal halfway point of the regular season. Awful transition and perimeter defense plus a lack of execution down the stretch and in overtime cost the Knicks their third straight close game to the Bulls who have all of 15 wins overall. “We maybe forced things, didn’t take right shot, turned the ball over or missed shots,” said Kristaps Porzingis who described a smorgasbord of things gone wrong for the Knicks.

On the court, Jarrett Jack had his second career triple-double (16 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) but was more impressive after the game when he held himself accountable for the loss when he met the media.

“I’m looking at myself first and everybody else”, he said. “I don’t say nothin’ to anybody else or ask of anybody else what I’m not asking of myself.”

Jack tied the game at 105-105 with a 17-foot jumper late in the fourth quarter. In the first overtime, the veteran guard, who had his contract guaranteed this past Sunday, scored on a jump shot and then assisted on the pretty play that led to Porzingis’ dunk to tie the game at 112 as time expired and send it to a second overtime.

In the second 5 minute session, the teams were tied at 116 when Chicago’s Kris Dunn, who was 3 for 17, banked in a runner off the glass to give the Bulls a two point lead. The Knicks had one last chance to tie but Jack, who didn’t have a chance to get the ball to Porzingis, appeared to rush the game tying, three point attempt as the shot hit back iron and bounded away as time expired.

Porzingis scored 24 points and had some key blocks in the fourth quarter and overtime but was upstaged by Bulls’ rookie Lauri Markkanen who scored a season high 33 points. The two were matched up throughout the game and Markkanen outplayed the Knicks’ big man while tying a Bulls rookie record with 8 three pointers. Porzingis could only tip his cap. “Out of these three games (vs. the Knicks) definitely the best one for him (Markkanen) against us,” he said.

The constant in these tough losses is the Knicks’ penchant for blowing leads and making mistakes at the worst times. Coach Jeff Hornacek said the Knicks need to learn how to separate themselves when they have a team on the ropes. “Get a lead at home, that’s when we have to put the hammer down,” Hornacek said.

Michael Beasley was a force at times with a team leading 26 points but did not score in either overtime. Courtney Lee played 45 minutes and scored 16 points.

The Knicks, who shot 10 of 22 from 3-pt range, continue to struggle mightily with their perimeter defense. Chicago was 15 of 33 from three with their starting forwards, Markkanen and Denzel Valentine combining to shoot 12 for 23 from beyond the arc.

The Knicks have half their schedule remaining but Jack already feels a sense of urgency as the road to a playoff berth will be difficult especially with the upcoming schedule that features a seven game road trip and 10 of the next 12 away from home. “We’re a team trying to fight and jockey for post season play,” Jack said. “With the parity going on in the Eastern Conference, we’re having opportunities but we can’t waste them or keep letting games like this fall by the wayside.”

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