Knicks lack of fourth-quarter defense irks Tom Thibodeau

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INDIANAPOLIS — The defeat didn’t count, but it mattered to Tom Thibodeau.

The Knicks coach showed his displeasure after his second unit blew a 10-point lead in the final 6:09 of a 109-100 loss to the Pacers on Wednesday night.

“Obviously, we didn’t do what we needed to do at the end,” he said. “There wasn’t any defense being played [in the fourth quarter], so that was a big problem. Guys were beating us with the same move; that should never happen. We got to straighten that out.”

The backups struggled all evening, blowing a 12-point lead created by the starters in the first half and then choking away a 10-point edge in the fourth quarter. They had no answer for the Pacers’ reserves down the stretch, on the wrong end of a 25-6 run as rookie Benn Mathurin (27 points) took over.

Tom Thibodeau wasn’t happy with the Knicks’ defense in the fourth quarter of their 109-100 preseason loss to the Pacers.
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Isaiah Hartenstein said once the Pacers went to sharpshooting big man Goga Bitadze, the Knicks got out of sorts defensively, and never settled down.

“That was the biggest thing, we didn’t really know what to do in that situation,” Hartenstein said. “We didn’t play hard enough. I don’t think we were in the right position.”

It should be noted the second unit was without two of its top guards: Quentin Grimes (sore left foot) and Derrick Rose (rest). That led Cam Reddish and Miles McBride to play extended minutes.

Reddish, who is unlikely to be part of the rotation once the regular season begins, struggled. He scored 10 points on 3-for-10 shooting, failed to get back on defense on a few occasions and recorded a team-worst, minus-22 rating. But it wasn’t about one player, Thibodeau fumed after the loss.

“The defensive part, we control that. That part we should be able to count on every night. That’s effort, that’s concentration, that’s togetherness, that’s your commitment to winning,” Thibodeau said. “The rebounding is a team thing. We didn’t rebound the ball well in the fourth quarter, or as well as we could have. We didn’t get stops. That’s what bothers me. And some of them are mental mistakes that shouldn’t happen, and those are effort things.”


Former Knicks and current University of Indiana coach Mike Woodson attended the game. … Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (lower back soreness) didn’t play.

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