The Knicks not only lost their fourth straight preseason game Monday, they were embarrassed at the Garden by a showboating James Harden.
Mike D’Antoni played for the win in his old stomping grounds and reinserted the Rockets starters and turned a blowout victory into a bigger blowout, 117-95, over the Knicks. Jeff Hornacek seemed peeved at the tactic, saying “I’m not surprised” that D’Antoni would run up the score in the preseason.
Adding another insult to D’Antoni’s insult, Harden began to taunt the Knicks as he buried 10 points in the final seven minutes.
“We’re competitors. It’s never good to have that happen on your home floor,” Knicks forward Lance Thomas said. “We’re going to watch film, we’re going to remember what that felt like. And we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
After putting the Rockets up by 25 with a dunk, Harden sprinted across the court in celebration. The MVP runner-up said he was simply demonstrating his love for basketball, and he seemed to take particular joy when up against Knicks guard Ron Baker.
“I have fun playing the game of basketball, the game that I love,” said Harden, who finished with 36 points in 37 minutes. “It’s not about who is guarding me. It’s about having a passion for the game.
“We have two preseason games left, so we all had that mindset that we can’t take these games lightly.”
The Knicks (0-4), who were playing without Kristaps Porzingis (sore hip), had cut the deficit to 11 when D’Antoni called timeout with about seven minutes remaining. The Rockets coach then brought in his starting lineup, which went on a 21-7 run that prompted the crowd to boo the Knicks in the final seconds.
New York’s porous defense gave up 117 points for a second straight game.
“I’m not concerned about the number (117 points allowed),” Hornacek said. “They put their starters back in and they scored quite a bit there.”
Asked about Harden’s taunting, Hornacek said, “It’s alright. You got to stop them.”
Michael Beasley had his best preseason game with the Knicks but left the Garden in a sling and in visible pain.
Beasley committed a charge in the third quarter and crashed to the court, suffering a bruised elbow. X-rays were negative, he said.
“I just fell, and twisted it kind of funny,” added Beasley, who finished with 17 points in 25 minutes.
Beasley now joins a growing list of injured Knicks. Porzingis was a scratch with a sore hip and, according to Hornacek, “is having some issues lifting his leg.” The Latvian’s status for Friday’s preseason finale is up in the air.
Rookie Frank Ntilikina, however, is expected to return Friday from a knee bruise that has sidelined him the last three games.
Source: New York Daily News