The Knicks really had a chance in Saturday night's bout with the 76ers at Madison Square Garden, something that seemingly would have shocked just about everyone except the Knicks themselves.
Down as much as 10 points, the Knicks fought back, and by midway through the third quarter they were down by just one point. But the Knicks just stayed around there the rest of the night, failing to take the lead from then on up until there was just 31.3 seconds left to play.
As both sides struggled to shoot the ball in what was an ugly offensive game overall, Marcus Morris put the Knicks up by one with about half a minute left in regulation.
After a Sixers timeout, the Knicks failed to guard Tobias Harris on an inbounds play that put Philadelphia back up by two after he connected on a three-pointer with 28.2 left.
"We got bumped off," Mike Miller said after the game on how Harris got so open. "We had our coverage and then we got bumped and we got into rotations and we were just late getting there. ...He just ended up getting a little too much space."
Coming out of their own timeout on the next possession, the Knicks essentially put the nail in their own coffin, as Elfrid Payton dribbled the ball much too close to the sidelines and passed it over to Morris, who then quickly dumped it off to Julius Randle right in front of the out of bounds line -- and a referee -- before the ball went off Randle's chest, turning the play into a wasted opportunity.
A made free-throw by the Sixers put them up three, and a bad three-point attempt from Morris near half-court ended a match that showed some very poor late-game management by the Knicks and Miller.
"Well we were doing something similar that we have before," Miller said. "We were getting to a cleared side, we had plenty of time and our spacing broke down a little bit in there. ...They were able to, as it was running down, just bottle us in there when we had the whole side of the floor on the other side. ...We were looking to create some space and have some options going that way."
"We were trying to get the ball to Marcus on the elbow and have a clear side for him going to his right, but they pushed everything left and kind of jammed us up on that side and he got caught in a bad position, and then I did, so it's whatever." Randle said after the game. "...They made a good defensive play."
According to Morris, the Knicks "ran that play twice back-to-back, so they were over-covering it." Wouldn't you want to catch your opponent off guard in this type of situation?
Ben Simmons, who leads the NBA in steals per game this season, made the defensive play on Randle to cause him to turn the ball over and is arguably considered one of the more well-rounded players in the league. Miller or any veteran on this team should know that a player of his caliber is going to be able to read a play that he saw just seconds ago and play it correctly.
The Knicks have suffered too many late game collapses this season, so in a game where five of their veteran free agent signings from the summer were in the starting lineup and played the most minutes, not stealing this win Saturday night hurts a bit extra.