Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
It’s safe to say the New York Knicks are officially in a rut.
They lost their third consecutive game on Friday night, a 139-124 defeat to the Atlanta Hawks. It’s the second-most points the Knicks have given up to an opponent this season, trailing only the 145 scored by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Nov. 13.
The Hawks weren’t exactly a defensive juggernaut in this game. They allowed 124 points and let the Knicks shoot 59.0 percent from the field, including 13-of-30 from three-point range.
But this was an embarrassing defensive effort from head coach Tom Thibodeau’s squad. It’s also the third consecutive game they have allowed an opponent to score at least 116 points.
Prior to this rough stretch, the last team to score at least 116 points against the Knicks was the San Antonio Spurs on Dec. 29. That game also came at the end of a season-high five-game losing streak.
Trae Young didn’t have his best game with 27 points on 9-of-21 shooting from the field, six assists and four turnovers. Dejounte Murray was excellent with 29 points, 12 assists and three steals in 36 minutes.
NBA fans had plenty to say about the Knicks’ abysmal effort on the defensive end of the court against the Hawks:
Did the Knicks Win? @knickswintrack
Tom Thibodeau playing drop defense against Trae/Dejounte pic.twitter.com/M3NTc7pUl4
Donald Stewart @DStewart267
This is a complete joke from the Knicks. Hawks with 131 points with time still to go to get plenty more, farcical defense. #Knicks
It’s probably not a coincidence the Knicks had this defensive performance in their first game without Mitchell Robinson. the team announced he will be re-evaluated in three weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured right thumb after suffering the injury in Wednesday’s loss to the Washington Wizards.
“Mitch is the anchor for our defense,” RJ Barrett told reporters after the Wizards game. “Him going out is an adjustment for sure.”
Robinson ranks fifth in the NBA with 1.8 blocks per game and second on the team with 8.9 rebounds per contest. Jalen Brunson had all three of New York’s blocks against the Hawks, but the team was outrebounded 39-34 with Atlanta’s edge coming on the offensive glass (14-9).
The Knicks entered this game ranked seventh in points allowed (111.4) and 11th in defensive rating (112.8).
There’s no reason to hit the full-blown panic button yet, but three straight losses have the Knicks just 0.5 games ahead of the Hawks, who have now won five consecutive games, for the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference.
New York is off tomorrow before taking on the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena on Sunday at 6 pm ET.