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The Knicks’ home woes continue with a loss to the Wizards

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It doesn’t take a detective — like someone from Tom Thibodeau dubbed “The Minute Police” — to figure out something isn’t right with the Knicks.

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Whether that’s a heavy burden on the key players, which their coach, Thibodeau, said. ejection before the matchor just a team in trouble The Knicks’ recent struggles continued Wednesday night.

Their lawn woes won’t go away, that’s for sure, after they fell to a losing team for their second straight home game, this time an ugly 116-105 setback to Wizards who started poorly and never got better.

Now 11-13 in their own building this season, the Knicks (25-21) are the only winning team in the NBA with a losing home record. Since their eight-game winning streak in December, they’ve been 7-8 overall in their last 15 contests and headed in the wrong direction.

“Overall we didn’t play well,” said Thibodeau after the dismal wire-to-wire loss. “We were playing from behind all night. It hurt us. They came out and were shooting early. They got a lot of confidence out of it. I thought they played really well. We missed shots. We couldn’t derail our defense.”

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Julius Randle responds during the Knicks’ loss to the Wizards on Wednesday.
Jason Szenes

Nix was a slow step on both ends of the earth. Once again they didn’t move the ball on offense and relied heavily on isolation, making just 14 assists. The Wizards’ long wingers, Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma, destroyed from the perimeter, putting together 49 points, 24 rebounds and 12 assists. The Wizards (19-26) led 14-3 with just 3:05 in, an ominous sign of the night before the Knicks.

The loss of a staunch defensive Mitchell Robinson in the first quarter was not helped by a sprained right thumb. Julius Randle, second in the league in minutes played over the last 15 games, was the night shooting 6-for-17 and 0-for-5 from 3-point range. He gets hit on again and again by Kuzma and Porzingis, Nick’s ex who gets booed the whole time, though not as loud as the recent visits here.

“It was better,” Porcingis said with a smile. “And I think some fans are pleased with me on this point. I got a lot of support today. I saw kids pulling my shirt off, trying to give me a five-year-old and telling me to go back to New York and it was great to see some support again.”

The home team also heard some boos interspersed during a mostly uninspired performance. The Knicks came within seven points early in the fourth quarter after trailing by 17 in the third, but they couldn’t get any closer.

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Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis blocks Knicks center Jericho Sims’ shot in the first half on Wednesday night.
Jason Szenes
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Thibodeau elected to keep Jalen Bronson (32 points) off the bench for nearly half of the fourth quarter. By the time he came back, the deficit was back in double digits, and it was soon at 15 with 5:46 remaining. It’s basically gone at that point, and the end result is more cosmetic than anything else.

“I think we, myself included — even though I was the main culprit — loosened up a bit on this game,” Bronson said. “At the forefront of our minds, when we play a team we just beat in place, we knew they were going to come out with a different kind of intensity, especially when you played them less than a week ago. They came out ready to play.”

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The Knicks chase Isaiah Hartenstein and Washington Wizards forward Taj Gibson for loose balls in the first half.
Jason Szenes

Thibodeau and Bronson didn’t miss out on the Knicks’ effort, which was sometimes a problem early in the season. They just don’t click now. Crime is stagnant, and in need of a shake-up. The defense is elusive, and will be challenged if Robinson ever screws up. And the schedule will get even tougher, starting with a trip on Friday to take on the Hawks, who have won four straight games.

“We just have to work our way through it,” said Thibodeau. “You’re going to hit different things during the season. Come back, be tough mentally — like it’s not going our way right now. We have to make it go our way.”

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