MIAMI — Youth was served and gorged.
The Knicks were cooked Wednesday night by the Miami Heat, 119-98, as their 23-and-under players — Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay, Damyean Dotson, Isaiah Hicks and Troy Williams — were absolutely horrendous.
Those players combined to score 14 points on 5-for-24 shooting in 84 minutes, canceling out productive nights from Michael Beasley (22 points, seven rebounds) and Enes Kanter (23, 13).
Most of the embarrassment came from the subs.
“Their bench team destroyed us,” Jeff Hornacek said.
The Knicks (26-46) did not gain any ground in the tank race, either, remaining 1 ½ games behind the Bulls for the eighth-worst record.
Already mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the Knicks are pushing out their younger players for the sake of experimenting and developing. Mudiay has been a wreck as the starting point guard and, on Wednesday, he managed just eight points on 3 of 10 shooting with four assists in 28 minutes.
Ntilikina was coming off two encouraging performances — both victories for the Knicks — but completed one of the worst games of his NBA career Wednesday, scoring just three points on 1-of-5 shooting. The Knicks were outscored by 17 points in Ntilikina’s 20 minutes.
The Heat (39-33) were playing without Hassan Whiteside (hip) and Dwyane Wade (hamstring) but still led New York by double-digits for the final 34 minutes.
Miami isn’t very talented (starting lineup includes James Johnson, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson and Bam Adebayo), but it plays hard and quick, and hits its shots.
Against the Knicks, there were plenty of open ones. The defeat represented New York’s 18th in the last 21 games.
Hornacek, his behind firmly in the hot seat, can only think about ‘what if’ after the team started 17-14 and collapsed amid injuries and awful play.
“That’s the roller coaster season of the NBA,” he said.
This season — like the the better part of the last 20 years — the Knicks have experienced more of the fall.
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