Knicks’ Loss to Nets Shows They Still Need Help (It May Arrive Monday)


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The Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony was double-teamed by Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough in the second quarter Friday.

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Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

The Knicks were incapable of losing any games for nine days over the recent N.B.A. All-Star break. It was a blissful stretch of inactivity. Carmelo Anthony visited some of his high-profile pals in Toronto. Several teammates traveled to tropical locales, hard-earned reprieves from a season in full decline.

Sandy beaches, warm sunshine — it was all a dusty memory in the wake of their 109-98 loss to the Nets on Friday night. Afterward, the Knicks shuffled about the visitors’ locker room at Barclays Center, and it all looked and sounded so familiar. Same muted voices. Same pledges to find ways to improve. Same realization that their goal of making the playoffs is fading.

“We can’t be giving away games like this,” Carmelo Anthony said.

The Knicks (23-33) committed 16 turnovers, shot 43.9 percent from the field and lost for the 11th time in 12 games. Kurt Rambis, who has lost both games in his short tenure as interim coach, cited a general lack of execution. The Knicks were left with less than 24 hours to find fixes before their game Saturday against the Timberwolves in Minnesota.

“If we can’t get stops, we’re not going to be able to score enough points to keep us alive in a ballgame,” Rambis said.

Brook Lopez proved too much for the Knicks to handle, finishing with 33 points and 8 rebounds as the Nets (15-40) survived a series of second-half rallies. Bojan Bogdanovic added 16 points. The Nets converted all those turnovers by the Knicks into 21 points and outscored them by 48-32 in the paint, statistics that Anthony cited more than once.

“Kind of self-explanatory,” said Anthony, who finished with 22 points and 7 rebounds. “It was obvious why we lost the game.”

It was a sad indictment of the Knicks’ season that the buildup to the game was consumed by news that they planned to fill their open roster spot by signing a player from the Westchester Knicks, their Development League affiliate. Not just any player, but Jimmer Fredette, the former lottery pick whose fraught relationship with the N.B.A. recently relegated him to a role in the minor leagues.

Fredette is expected to join the Knicks on Monday — and if their loss to the Nets revealed anything, it was that they still needed help, especially after making no roster changes before Thursday’s trade deadline. It would be a stretch to suggest that Fredette is the answer, but they are running out of time and options.

“We have to believe in what we have right now,” Anthony told reporters at the team’s morning shootaround.

If it did not come across as the most emphatic endorsement of the team’s personnel decisions, then Anthony, whose contract with the Knicks runs through the 2018-19 season, did not have much of a choice. Hindered by a sore left knee, Anthony remains committed to the product as constructed.

The Nets began to seize control in the third quarter. After Donald Sloan made a 3-pointer, he paused for a half beat to stare at the Knicks’ bench. Wayne Ellington soon soared for a fast-break dunk, and the Knicks were down by 13 — a deficit that prompted a timeout by Rambis.

The Knicks stuck around, briefly, in the fourth. Langston Galloway converted back-to-back shots to cut the Nets’ lead to 4. But their fragile chemistry fell apart as the Nets mounted a big run, pulling back ahead. The Nets led by 13 after Bogdanovic sank one of his four 3-pointers.

The Knicks, Rambis said, plan to sign Fredette to a 10-day contract in time for Monday’s game against the Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden. Fredette, a lottery pick in 2011 after a standout career at Brigham Young, has struggled to remain gainfully employed in the N.B.A., his scoring prowess offset by defensive limitations.

“You go through these steps when you’re developing as a basketball player,” Rambis said. “But to make that step into the N.B.A., it’s a huge leap. Guys are much bigger, stronger, longer, quicker, faster. So it takes a certain kind of person that can play at this level, and if you’re missing one of those characteristics or attributes, it can be enough to take you out of the league.”

Waived by the San Antonio Spurs in October and then waived again by the New Orleans Pelicans in November, the 6-foot-2 Fredette subsequently signed with the Westchester Knicks and made an immediate splash. In 28 games entering the team’s meeting with the Iowa Energy on Friday night, Fredette averaged 22.3 points and 4.8 assists per game.

Rambis said he was well aware of Fredette’s shooting expertise. (He recently scored 35 points in the D-League All-Star Game.) The concerns are whether he can handle the ball, run an offense and defend shiftier guards. Rambis said he would like to evaluate Fredette at practice before throwing him into games.

“But you don’t know how situations change,” Rambis said. “I’m going to do what I can in practice and do what I can in games to see what he can bring. It’s going to be a short period of time that he’s going to be with us, so I have to figure out if he can help us as quickly as possible.”



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