Frank Ntilikina injured his groin and couldn’t play the half, and the Knicks’ defense fell apart in the latest Garden loss, this time to the Heat.

On a brisk January night, Carmelo Anthony returned to Madison Square Garden to watch his friend and former rival, Dwyane Wade, play perhaps his last game in the bright lights of New York. Calling New York “home,” Anthony received a standing ovation from his fans and returned the love.

Continuing a brutal start to 2019, the New York Knicks (10-38) lost to the Miami Heat (24-24) by a score of 106-97. In their last 10 games, nine of them against teams .500 or better, the Knicks have gone 1-9 and rank last in offensive and defensive efficiency.

Each member of the Heat’s starting lineup scored in double-digits, including Hassan Whiteside, who had 13 points, 16 rebounds, and three blocks in just 24 minutes. The Heat, however, were led by Wade, who came off the bench. Vintage Wade showed up at times, torching the Knicks’ interior defense. He went 5-of-12 (41 percent) from the field and scored 15 points while leading the Heat in assists with 10.

The Knicks’ defensive rotations were tight tonight against the Miami Heat, relatively speaking. Intensity was apparent from the get-go, as the Knicks had seven steals in the first half. They were active in the passing lanes, provided appropriate traps, and closed out on the perimeter with haste.

Frank Ntilikina enjoyed a solid first half, tallying six points, three assists, and two rebounds in just 15 minutes of playing time. However, Ntilikina suffered a strained groin late in the second quarter and did not return for the second half. The guard hasn’t been able to receive consistent minutes at the point this season. As it happened, the Knicks unraveled following his injury.

The Heat jumped out ahead to start the second half, and the Knicks never managed to successfully regain the lead. A slow start for New York paired with Miami getting hot from deep led to the Knicks being outscored 29-12 in the third quarter.

After a lazy third quarter, the Knicks went on a 20-9 run to open the fourth quarter. Despite a late game run in the fourth quarter led by Damyean Dotson and Mitchell Robinson’s defense, the Knicks failed to close out the game on a high note. A common sentiment throughout the season, the Knicks have seldom played impressively through an entire game.

Impressive stats and notes

  • Wayne Ellington went off in the second half, scoring nine points in the third quarter and eight points in the fourth. Shooting 6-of-13 (46 percent) from the field and 4-of-11 (36 percent) from deep, Ellington brought the Heat back to life following a six-point deficit to close the first half.
  • The Knicks shot 24 percent from beyond the arc, hitting just seven of their 26 attempts. Hardaway Jr. leads the Knicks in triples made, hitting north of two a game. Dotson hit two of his five attempts. Dot had 14 points, four assists, and a rebound to go with his usual active defense.
  • Mitchell Robinson further solidified how important he is to the Knicks’ defense. While he was on the court, the team was +2. He went 3-of-5 (60 percent) from the field, with six points, seven rebounds (four offensive), one assist, three steals, and two blocks. Most importantly, however, he only committed two personal fouls in 23 minutes of play—an encouraging development for Fizdale and his assistants.

  • Enes Kanter is still banished to the bench. Given two DNP-CD’s in the previous two games, Fizdale once again stuck to his guns and gave Kanter another DNP-CD. Perhaps Kanter’s comments recently have rubbed Fizdale, Perry, and Mills the wrong way, and the organization has now ousted him, or perhaps Kanter is really that bad on one half of the court.

The New York Knicks have now lost 11 straight games at Madison Square Garden, close to breaking their franchise record. With Dallas, Boston, and Memphis visiting New York in the coming days, the Knicks look to snap that streak and get a much-needed W.