It has only cost them twice, but the Knicks have made a habit of squandering big leads early in the season.
They have blown double-digit leads in each of their two losses — including a 15-point advantage that disappeared in Monday’s loss to the Raptors — and it’s been an issue in some of their wins.
“I think at times, we just get a little bit complacent,” Kemba Walker said Tuesday. “We’ve gotten big leads and we just kind of cough them up. We got to be better. Myself, I got to be better controlling the team, just making sure the pace is staying the same. We have to be better in our huddles, we got to talk about it more and understand what’s been hurting us and figure out what’s been going on during these big leads. We got to fix it.”
Besides the issue arising in their two losses, the Knicks gave up an 11-point fourth-quarter lead against the Celtics before prevailing in double overtime on opening night. Then last week against the Bulls, they led by 13 with 2:59 left before surviving a one-point win.
“Leads disappear … just because of the way teams are shooting 3s,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You can make up ground quickly. You let your guard down and you give up three 3s in transition in a minute, that’s 10 points. It can go quickly. So no lead is safe.”
The Knicks’ backup center situation remained up in the air as they embarked on a two-game road trip.
Taj Gibson, who left Monday’s loss with a sprained ankle, and Nerlens Noel, who has yet to play this season because of a knee issue, are both questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Pacers, Thibodeau said.
While Gibson practiced Tuesday, Noel did not because of personal reasons, Thibodeau said, though both were set to travel with the team.
Their questionable statuses left the depth chart behind Mitchell Robinson unsettled.
When Robinson went to the bench in the third quarter Monday, with Gibson already out, Thibodeau first tried a small lineup with Obi Toppin and Julius Randle manning the frontcourt. The Knicks were outscored 14-5 during that stretch.
“I liked the speed of it, but the rebounding was problematic for us,” Thibodeau said of the Toppin-Randle lineup.