PHILADELPHIA — Shoulders slumped, head down, Kevin Knox looked upset as he trotted off the court after interim coach Mike Miller yanked him 2:52 into the fourth quarter of the Knicks’ 107-101 loss Wednesday night at Charlotte.
The 2018 lottery pick had just committed two straight miscues on drives to the basket. He lost the ball once for a turnover as he tried to shovel a pass to Mitchell Robinson. He also forced up a contested runner that missed everything.
If this were last season, former coach David Fizdale would have let him stay in and live through the mistakes. Knox claimed he wasn’t upset at Miller — just himself.
“I made some mistakes,’’ Knox said before the Knicks faced the 76ers on Thursday. “I always look back on some plays I could’ve done better. That’s what I was frustrated about. I made some wrong reads. I was trying to throw it to Mitchell. They were staying with Mitch. I made the wrong read that’s what I was frustrated about.”
Knox’s alarming sophomore jinx has been well-documented. His scoring average is down to a paltry 6.6 points. He has averaged 10 minutes fewer a game than during his occasionally solid rookie season. Knox played 23:28 against the Hornets, but that was only the second time he had been over the 20-minute mark in the past 16 games.
Still, he said this isn’t a season of regression because he improved on the defensive end.
“Last season was a little different with my time,’’ Knox said. “But my confidence is the same and my body’s good. I think I’ve definitely gotten a lot better. I really am trying to get better on defense. That’s been my mindset the whole season. I’m not really worried about the offense. That’s going to come, shots are going to fall. I really want to lock in defensively and making those extra plays.’’
The shots have not fallen enough (36.5 percent from the field) and he’s not been involved enough. In the 23 minutes Wednesday, he scored just four points on 2-for-5 shooting.
In the past three games, Knox had tinkered with his jump shot. He’s putting on a lot more arc, to the point the launches resemble moonballs.
“Something I looked at, something I’m working to keep arcing the shot at all times,’’ Knox said. “It’s come naturally, getting shots up, getting more arc on the ball and have more chance of going in. It feels good. They’re not going to fall every night. I just got to keep shooting with the right mechanics and stay consistent.’’
A pregame staple is Knox sitting courtside with assistant coach Jud Buechler as the two look over plays on an iPad. Buechler is a former teammate of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Miller said they go over offense and defense.
“He’s always talking to me about things I can do better and where I can excel at,’’ Knox said. “He’s been around some of the greatest players in the game. So I’m trying to pick his brain.’’
After facing the Sixers, Knox still had 23 games for the iPad studies to translate on the court.
Frank Ntilikina (groin) sat out a third straight game and center Taj Gibson (back) also was out, leading to a Bobby Portis start at center.