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Josh Hart takes blame for Knicks’ poor effort in Game 4 blowout: ‘I’m supposed to be the energy guy of the team. I gave nothing.’



INDIANAPOLIS — Josh Hart is taking the blame for the Knicks’ poor performance in a blowout Game 4 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

The lifeless Knicks took the floor against a Pacers team dreading the thought of returning to Madison Square Garden in a 3-1 series hole for Game 5 on Tuesday.

They responded by walloping the Knicks by 20 points in the opening period and building a lead that swelled to 43 points by the 9:40 mark of the fourth quarter.

Hart, who scored in double-figures in seven of the last eight games and recorded 10 or more rebounds in six of the last eight games, finished with just two points and two rebounds in 24 minutes of play.

“I put that on my shoulders,” Hart said at his locker after the game. “I’m supposed to be the energy guy of the team, and I didn’t do anything. I gave nothing. I put that on my shoulders. Now we’ve got to focus on rest and recovery and like I said, get ready for Tuesday.”

Hart became the first player since the NBA began tracking distances run on the floor to travel the length of a marathon (26.2 miles) in an eight-game span to start the playoffs. He played 42 or more minutes in nine consecutive games before wearing down in Game No. 10.

“Do I feel it [the wear and tear]? Yeah. But I mean, I think everyone does,” he said. “So at the end of the day it’s the playoffs. You’ve got to will yourself, will your body, and that’s something that I failed to do today. I’ve got to be better. There’s no excuses.”

Hart, like the key rotation players available to play in Game 4, refused to use dead legs as an excuse for the blowout Game 4 loss.

The Knicks were without Julius Randle, Bojan Bogdanovic, Mitchell Robinson and OG Anunoby in their losses in Games 3 and 4.

“It’s not really an excuse at this point. I think everyone’s kind of going through something, I think you just have to find a way,” said starting center Isaiah Hartenstein. “That’s kind of what they probably did a lot better than us these last two games. They just played more physical and with more urgency, kind of what we did more at home. I think that’s just kind of what we have to get back to: just being the more physical team and just playing our game.

“I don’t think we’ve been really playing how Knicks basketball kind of plays, being the more physical team, making the little plays that actually at the end of the games make a big difference. I think that’s what we gotta do.”

MISSING OG?

The Knicks are 26-5 in regular-season and playoff games Anunoby has played in and fell to 13-16 on Sunday in games he’s missed due to injury.

“It’s not just OG,” said coach Tom Thibodeau. “OG was gone for a good chunk of the season. So that’s no excuse. Just get it done.”

MOVING ON

Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said his team didn’t show enough respect to Donte DiVincenzo, who erupted for 35 points in Game 3 before the Pacers held him to just seven points on 3-of-13 shooting in Game 4.

“Appreciate the comments, but, you know, that’s the whole point of a playoff series,” DiVincenzo said after the loss. “You make adjustments and, you know, there was an adjustment they made tonight. We’ll go in tomorrow and we’ll make adjustments. It’s a seven game series for a reason.”

DiVincenzo said the key for Game 5 is putting Game 4 out of sight, out of mind.

“Yeah, the next game has nothing to do with the previous. It truly doesn’t,” he said. “The next game is completely different. You never know how it’s gonna look. and our job is  to now go home and take all the heat that’s coming in the next 48 hours and get ready to go and change the whole narrative of the series.”

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