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Evan Fournier Says 'I Wish I Had the Answer' to Fix Knicks' Inconsistency Problem

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 9, 2021

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 04:  Evan Fournier #13 of the New York Knicks looks on in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Madison Square Garden on December 04, 2021 in New York City. The Denver Nuggets defeated the New York Knicks 113-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The New York Knicks lost to the struggling Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night, 122-102, dropping them to 12-13 on the season and handing them their fourth loss in the past five games.

After the disappointing result, Evan Fournier was at a loss when asked about how the Knicks could become a more consistent team.

"That's the challenge for us, to find consistency. ... We're all aware of it, we all know what we need to do, and yet we keep being inconsistent," he told reporters. "I don't know, I wish I had the answer. Like I said, you know, it starts individually. How do you approach the game and how do you get yourself ready to play? There's nights where you're gonna miss shots. It's just basketball. But from a focus standpoint, and execution, I think that's the biggest area where we have to get better."

Knicks Videos @sny_knicks

Evan Fournier spoke at length about the Knicks' inconsistencies this season:<br><br>"We're all aware of it, we know what we need to do, and yet we keep being inconsistent. I don't know, I wish I had the answer" <a href="https://t.co/2ql3IWeONv">pic.twitter.com/2ql3IWeONv</a>

The Knicks started the season well, going 5-1, but are just 7-12 since, and it's been a bizarre year.

The team's premier offseason acquisition, Kemba Walker, has been taken out of the rotation. Julius Randle, who averaged career highs in points (24.1 PPG), rebounds (10.2) and three-point percentage (41.1 percent) has come back to earth, somewhat, averaging 19.9 points and shooting 33.3 percent from three this year. And 2019's third overall pick, RJ Barrett, hasn't taken the next step into stardom in his third year, averaging just 14.8 points per game this season.

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Despite being taken out of the Knicks' rotation, Kemba Walker is keeping a positive attitude about it all 👏 <a href="https://t.co/OhgInqP6GL">pic.twitter.com/OhgInqP6GL</a>

Dan Devine @YourManDevine

This isn't good, of course, but in spite of this and Fournier shooting 41% from the floor, the Knicks have been a near-top-10 offense. The problem's the defense: from no. 4 last season to no. 22 this season. There's the ballgame. <a href="https://t.co/UiRi8CsMi5">https://t.co/UiRi8CsMi5</a>

Dan Wolken @DanWolken

There’s no point in piling on the Knicks, but if you didn’t see Randle’s ridiculous 2020-21 season for what it was, that’s on you.

The Knicks had a busy offseason, adding players like Walker, Fournier and re-signing Derrick Rose, Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel. But the result has been a team that feels like a solid collection of players who would provide the perfect foundation for a superstar, rather than a team that is a true contender on its own. 

That, of course, leads to the natural question of whether last year's 41-31 squad simply overachieved.

Given that Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks dismissed the Knicks in five games in their first-round matchup last postseason—and given Tom Thibodeau's reputation for overtaxing his players during the regular season by giving them huge minutes, a style of coaching that reportedly wore out its welcome in previous tenures—it isn't completely shocking to see the team regress this year. 

Perhaps perfectly emblematic of the gulf between the perception in New York of what the Knicks could be versus the reality of what they actually are was Obi Toppin's between-the-legs dunk in the first half, a brief flash of sizzle in a game the Knicks would go on to lose against a beleaguered Indiana team that has lost five of its past seven coming into Wednesday and already has rumors swirling that it will be a seller ahead of this season's trade deadline:

🏁 Jamal Crawford @JCrossover

Thibs is gonna be hottt if they lose this game lol. <a href="https://t.co/Q6uQLqRIR9">https://t.co/Q6uQLqRIR9</a>

Michael Lee @MrMichaelLee

It's all well &amp; good in real time but the Knicks' next film session is going to be this play on a loop &amp; Thibs going ballistic about showboating while getting your tail handed to you <a href="https://t.co/4BNHR7M2q6">pic.twitter.com/4BNHR7M2q6</a>

Perhaps the Knicks will figure it out. But last year's optimism is quickly being replaced by disillusionment in New York. That descent into dread had been a near-yearly inevitability during the James Dolan tenure, with only last season serving as the briefest of respites.