The Knicks, not far removed from one of the most inspiring stretches of play that the franchise has seen in decades, are suddenly reeling and fighting to avoid a play-in disaster with just seven games left in the regular season.
Julius Randle, rightfully praised for his improvement on the court this season and his demeanor, is suddenly letting emotion lead to consequences again, as he was whistled for a technical foul for the third straight game on Thursday, this time getting into the face of teammate Immanuel Quickley for trying to lead Randle away from the officials.
The team has also lagged on defense, as the Magic and Heat combined to miss just two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter in New York’s last two losses, as Orlando shot 40.6 percent from downtown on Thursday, after Miami shot 57.1 percent from beyond the arc the night before.
“Right now, our team, we're out of sorts,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You have to pull together. You go through rough times, you get into things together, you get out of things together.”
The Knicks weren’t fully together on Thursday, as Jalen Brunson sat with a sprained right hand, to which Thibodeau did not have an outlook for after the loss in Orlando. Without Brunson, New York didn’t look like the team that held a nine-game winning streak earlier this month. Instead, they looked like a team suddenly searching to rediscover its identity, and time is running out to find it again before the playoffs, or the play-in, depending on how New York finishes down the stretch.
“We have to do everything a lot better,” Thibodeau said. “We have to be committed to doing it as a team. There's going to be ups and downs that we have to navigate. Everyone does. We can't lose sight of what we're trying to get accomplished.”
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1
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