Kristaps Porzingis may have company in Knicks fans’ wrath
Kristaps Porzingis is likely in for a rude welcome back to the Garden on Thursday night.
But he may not be alone.
The Knicks will return to play in front of their home crowd for the first time since Sunday’s embarrassing loss to the Cavaliers, which was followed by president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry’s impromptu press conference (suggested by owner James Dolan) that seemed to put coach David Fizdale on notice.
During the Knicks’ 2-9 start, there have already been chants to “Fire Fizdale” and “Fire Dolan” around the Garden. Thursday has the potential to get even uglier with the heat turned up and a reminder of the failed past in the building, especially if the Knicks can’t find the magic they conjured up Friday to beat the Mavericks in Dallas.
“Obviously it’s gonna be electric,” Fizdale said Wednesday after practice. “With Dallas coming in, obviously with Kristaps coming back, I think it’s gonna be a fun atmosphere.”
How long that lasts remains to be seen. There has not been much fun at the Garden lately.
When Fizdale arrived at the podium late Sunday night — directly after Mills and Perry had upstaged him — he began speaking unprompted and immediately pointed to the Knicks’ inconsistency at home. He said it was on him to figure it out.
On Wednesday, he had a theory for it.
“Honestly, I think they want to do so well for the fan base I think they get tight. I really do,” Fizdale said. “I’ve looked at all of the different things that have happened and I just feel like sometimes — they really want to do well for the city. With everything that’s happened over the course of the last year, these guys want to play hard for the city, they want to win for the city. I think just think sometimes when it starts to go the other way, they play not to lose instead of playing to win.
“We spend a lot of time talking to them about mindset. That’s not a weight or a pressure you need to carry. The city will always respond to you playing hard, playing together and just play for each other. The rest of that stuff will take care of itself.”
Some of the Knicks’ worst losses have come at home. On back-to-back Sundays at the Garden, they got blown out by the Kings and Cavaliers by a combined 42 points. Both had come on the backs of promising efforts — first a two-point loss to the Celtics in Boston and then a win over the Mavericks in Dallas.
Of course, the Knicks’ problems are hardly limited to the Garden. They suffered a 20-point loss to the Pistons in Detroit last week and Tuesday in Chicago fell apart in the fourth quarter of an 18-point loss to the Bulls, which Fizdale chalked up to Coby White catching fire and the Knicks’ ball movement slowing down.
Mills and Perry wanted to see the roster they built playing up to their expectations. Fizdale and Julius Randle both said they see progress being made.
“A completely new team, new situation, nine new players,” Randle said. “If you’re playing excellent basketball at this time with the circumstances that we’re dealing with, then that’s just God, that ain’t nothing what you’re doing, man.”
The only real progress most fans care about, though, shows up in the win column.
The Knicks were able to steal one last week against Porzingis and the Mavericks. With the desperation level rising, they will try to make it a clean sweep Thursday.
“I don’t think our team has the luxury to look at that situation that way,” Fizdale said. “We just look at it as we have an opponent that we have to beat and compete against and that’s it.”
For more on the Knicks, listen to the latest episode of the “Big Apple Buckets” podcast:
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