Knicks Briefly Make Do Without Porzingis, Then Fall Hard Against Houston

HOUSTON — James Harden had 37 points and 10 assists as the Houston Rockets rallied from an early deficit to beat the Knicks, 117-102, on Saturday night.

The Rockets erased the Knicks’ early 22-point lead by making 18 3-pointers and getting 44 points from their bench, led by 17 from Ryan Anderson.

Knicks starters Kristaps Porzingis and Enes Kanter sat out the game because of back ailments. Porzingis (lower back tightness) played 36 minutes Friday night in Atlanta, scoring 28 points. He entered Saturday fourth in the N.B.A. in scoring at 27.3 points per game.

In place of Porzingis and Kanter, the reserves Michael Beasley and Kyle O’Quinn started. Beasley had a season-high 30 points, while O’Quinn had his first double-double of the season with 20 points and 15 rebounds.

The Knicks rode hot shooting to a 29-7 lead midway through the first quarter. The shots eventually stopped falling, turnovers mounted, and the Rockets shot their way back into the game, mostly from long range.

The Knicks led, 39-29, at the end of the first quarter, and Houston finally tied the game at 51 on a free throw by Chris Paul late in the second quarter. The Knicks led, 61-58, at halftime.

Houston pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring New York by 37-13.

Houston has defeated the Knicks in 24 of the past 26 meetings. The Rockets have won four straight over all and are 10-1 in November with home games against Brooklyn and Indiana remaining in the month.

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Knicks Falter in the Second Half Against Atlanta

ATLANTA — Atlanta Hawks Coach Mike Budenholzer has been waiting for his young team to notch a signature home victory against a quality opponent.

Now Budenholzer has a teaching point to use for the rest of a long season ahead.

“Of course we’d like to start better than giving up 39 in the first quarter,” Budenholzer said. “But defensively we found a way to get better. Guys played harder, competed better. The offense maintained itself throughout the game.”

Dennis Schroder scored 26 points, and the Hawks used a 30-point third quarter to end a three-game losing streak and beat the Knicks, 116-104, on Friday night.

The rebuilding Hawks, who are near the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 4-15 record, earned just their second home win by out-hustling the Knicks with a 24-5 advantage in second-chance points.

Kristaps Porzingis finished with 28 points, and Courtney Lee added 26 for the Knicks, who led by 17 in the first quarter. Their bench was outscored by 37-16, as Marco Belinelli had 15 points and Ersan Ilyasova scored 10 for Atlanta.

The Knicks, falling to 1-5 on the road, never led after Ilyasova’s 3-pointer with 4 minutes 21 seconds left in the third quarter. They were up by 8 points at halftime.

“Late in the second quarter and the entire second half, we kind of imposed our will, beat them to 50-50 balls,” Atlanta guard Kent Bazemore said. “Porzingis had a good night, but he was making some tough shots. Those things kind of catch up.”

Lee, in his highest-scoring game in two years with the Knicks, hit his first eight shots and finished 11 for 14 from the field, but he took just one shot in the fourth, a layup that made it 98-93.

What started as bad execution in allowing 35 points in the second quarter became a total breakdown for the Knicks’ defense in the third. Lee knows his team can’t afford to slack off defensively.

“Just make the extra effort,” Lee said. “Compete, box out, rotate, help each other out. If we do those things and take away those open 3-point shots and roads to the basket and get some of those loose balls, we win this game.”

The Knicks struggled all night to contain Schroder, who easily wove through the lane and around the baseline to keep the Hawks’ passing game fluid. He finished with eight assists.

“Schroder does a great job coming off those pick-and-rolls,” Knicks Coach Jeff Hornacek said. “And he’s got a lot of hesitation and he’s able to find their bigs. Other times, when we did help out properly and stop him, he made great passes.”

Tim Hardaway Jr., in his first game back at Philips Arena since leaving Atlanta as a free agent last summer, scored 22 points. The Hawks showed a brief video tribute to Hardaway during a first-quarter timeout. Most of the resulting cheers came from several thousand Knicks fans in the building.

Dewayne Dedmon had 16 points and Taurean Prince and John Collins each scored 13 for the Hawks.

Dedmon, at 7 feet, is just three inches shorter than Porzingis, so the Atlanta center had no trouble getting physical inside. Porzingis got frustrated in the fourth, drawing a technical foul immediately after Bazemore fed Dedmon for a reverse layup that made it 102-95.

“That good start that we had in the game was actually a curse to us,” Porzingis said. “We were feeling good on offense, but our defense wasn’t there. We relaxed a little bit. The shots weren’t falling anymore.”


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Knicks Beat Clippers for the First Time in Five Years

Things are going so poorly for the Clippers that they can’t even beat the Knicks anymore.

Kristaps Porzingis scored 25 points and the Knicks extended Los Angeles’s losing streak to nine games with a 107-85 victory Monday night.

Porzingis outplayed a frustrated Blake Griffin and helped the Knicks end a 10-game skid in the head-to-head series with their first victory over the Clippers in more than five years.

“Bottom line, we just can’t sustain anything,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. “Right now we get it going a little bit and one thing happens and it just implodes.”

Doug McDermott added 16 points for the Knicks, including a 3-pointer midway through the third quarter that swung the momentum for good.

“I got in there, had to bring some energy because we got off to a little slow start to start the third quarter,” McDermott said.

Griffin scored 21 points, but he shot just 6 for 18, picked up a technical foul and fouled out with 4 minutes 46 seconds remaining. The Clippers (5-11) have not won since Nov. 1 at Dallas, when they improved to 5-2.

“Tonight was not a good showing,” Griffin said. “We have to put together 48 minutes rather than playing in spurts. We know as a team that this is not going to be the end.”

Patrick Beverley returned for the Clippers after missing five games with a sore right knee, and he played well, with 9 points and six rebounds. But the Clippers are still without the injured Milos Teodosic, and their backcourt play beyond Beverley was mostly dismal.

Los Angeles fell behind by 17 points early in the third quarter before running off 15 straight points to cut the Knicks’ lead to 66-64 midway through the period. But McDermott hit a 3-pointer in transition, and added another during a 12-0 response by the Knicks, resulting in a 78-64 advantage with 4:11 remaining in the period.

“I thought that was disheartening,” Rivers said. “I thought that took the spirit away but it shouldn’t and that’s where we’re at right now. When you lose nine games in a row, you’re in a losing streak, you start feeling sorry for yourself when things don’t go right and you can’t do that.”

The game was tied at 20 after one quarter, but the Knicks led by 26 at one point in the fourth quarter of the decisive win.

“In the first half we weren’t moving the ball,” Knicks Coach Jeff Hornacek said. “One pass or no passes and the guys were shooting it. Once we got into passing the ball and moving it from side to side, then we ended up with 20 assists in the final 32 minutes and that’s pretty good.”

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