Knicks’ turmoil continues with blowout loss to Bulls – New York Post

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Knicks’ turmoil continues with blowout loss to Bulls – New York Post

CHICAGO — Call it an attempt to show solidarity.

Knicks coach David Fizdale marched into the United Center on Tuesday with team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry close behind him.

After Fizdale’s pregame press conference, Fizdale, Mills and Perry walked together into the locker room.

Mills and Perry are rarely seen in the locker room during media availability, but there they were, laughing and joking with players.

“It’s always a media firestorm in New York,” Fizdale said before the game.

“For everybody else this is a big deal, but for us it’s normal environment.’’

It may not have been just a show. The Knicks were routed, 120-102, battered in the fourth quarter by 2019 Bulls lottery pick Coby White to drop to 2-9 as Chicago gained revenge for its October loss.

Despite another defeat, there was a clear attempt to calm roiling waters surrounding Fizdale. Sources indicated Mills and Perry felt their unprecedented James Dolan-inspired press conference Sunday came off as too harsh in the form of pinning the blame on the coach.

Chicago's Thaddeus Young looks to control the ball during the Knicks' 120-102 loss to the Bulls on Tuesday night.
Chicago’s Thaddeus Young looks to control the ball during the Knicks’ 120-102 loss to the Bulls on Tuesday night.NBAE via Getty Images

The perception Fizdale is under a 10-game window from management’s comments seems a bit misconstrued, according to the source.

The major deterrent in making such a change after just 20 games is it potentially would put an assistant coach — Jud Buechler, Kaleb Canales, Keith Smart or Mike Miller — in an impossible spot as an interim coach and not even give Mills a chance to showcase his new roster in the best way.

After the game, near the locker room, Perry and Mills stared blankly at their paper boxscores without looking up for five minutes.

The Bulls put up a frenetic 35-17 fourth-quarter rampage — including a 22-0 run. White scored 23 of his career-high 27 points in the fourth, draining all seven of his 3-pointers in the quarter.

If Fizdale was placed on a 10-game leash following Sunday’s disgraceful loss to the Cavaliers at the Garden, he certainly wasn’t coaching that way, overplaying rusty point guard Dennis Smith Jr. in his return from a three-week absence.

The game was tied at 85 after ex-Chicago forward Bobby Portis drilled a corner 3 at the third-quarter buzzer.

“I saw light,’’ Portis said. “I thought we were going to take over the fourth quarter.”

But Fizdale kept Smith in the game and there wasn’t much sense to it. The Bulls ran off to a 102-89 lead in the first four minutes of the fourth.

Smith finally departed after a rough outing — 14 minutes, zero points, 0 for 3 from the field, three turnovers and a minus-22.

The bright spot Tuesday was Barrett, who had been shooting 32 percent in his last six games. He was marvelous against the Bulls, helping keep the Knicks in it. He shot 8 of 16, scored in transition and was a defensive spark.

“I just was aggressive — an 82-game season [I’m] going to have a couple of bad games,’’ Barrett said.

The Bulls were led by White, selected three spots after Barrett at No. 6. He put on the show with his North Carolina coach Roy Williams on hand, and Barrett had seen it before at Duke.

“[Duke] at UNC, he hit four [3-pointers],’’ Barrett said. “Once he hit the first two, I saw it coming.’’

“This one was tough,’’ Barrett added. “We played three great quarters of basketball. We got to finish it off.’’

Fizdale also said he wasn’t surprised by White’s outburst.

“I’ve seen him do it to other teams,’’ Fizdale said. “The kid is a super talent. He’s got incredible speed. Once he gets it going, it’s hard to stop. He broke the game open. We were tit for tat for a long time. Wow. Just wow. He put on a show.’’

The Knicks had no answers. Julius Randle scored 17 points on 5 of 15 shooting but shot two airballs from 3-point range, where he has struggled. He also had a key turnover during the Bulls’ fourth-quarter run.

“They just press when they get going, trying to fight back,’’ Fizdale said. “You see guys press and couple of moments we went into hero ball.’’

For more on the Knicks, listen to the latest episode of the “Big Apple Buckets” podcast:

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