NEW YORK — Not breaking news: The Celtics lost again. By a lot.
This has happened many times already this season, and it will continue to happen many more times until their season ends April 16 against the Washington Wizards at TD Garden.
But until then the Celtics are on a slow march to nowhere, filled with the rarest of rare moments when they might, just might, steal a win, but when more often than not they’ll lose. By a lot.
Tuesday night they lost, 114-88, to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
“A good old-fashioned butt-kicking,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “That’s what it was. I don’t think I have to describe it all that much. I think we were all sitting there and watching it.”
The Knicks fans in attendance enjoyed themselves, much more than Dec. 8 when these teams last met here — a 41-point Celtics blowout win.
“It happens,” forward Brandon Bass said, trying to summarize the dramatic turnaround from a blowout win to a blowout loss. “It’s the NBA. Teams make adjustments. Coaches make adjustments. They made adjustments. It was in their favor tonight.”
It wasn’t the Celtics’ worst loss this season; that happened Jan. 7 when they lost by 31 points at Denver.
But the Celtics did trail by as many as 35 points — tied for their largest deficit of the season — and they might have lost by that much, if not much more, had both teams basically stopped competing in the second half when the game was way out of hand.
“The proof is in the pudding,” Stevens said. “Whatever we are record-wise, we’re not a very good basketball team.”
Ah, the record. Well, it says in the standings the Celtics are 15-32, that they’ve lost 18 of their last 21 games, and 11 of their last 12 on the road. (The Knicks are 18-27.)
So if the proof is in the pudding, then the pudding is rotten.
The same could be said for the Celtics.
“We don’t want to act like it’s the end of the world when we get a loss,” said an upbeat Bass after finishing with 4 points on 2-for-5 shooting.
“We don’t want [the media] to make everybody feel like that as well, like ask a question, like ‘How you do feel? What’s the team like right now?’
“I just think, we’ve got to take it one day at a time, one game at a time and try to get a win.”
Just by trying in their next game, the Celtics will have made progress, because they gave no effort Tuesday night.
“It was effort, it was everything,” said point guard Rajon Rondo, who finished with 5 assists and 7 points on 3-for-13 shooting in 27 minutes. “We didn’t do anything well as a team, individually, and they exposed us.”
The Celtics missed 11 of their first 14 shots and trailed by as many as 17 points in the first quarter. The rest of the game was inconsequential.
The Knicks probably got a good cardio workout out of the whole affair, as they were able to run to any spot on the floor and do whatever they pleased whenever they got there.
“We didn’t take anything away tonight,” Rondo said. “We gave them pretty much anything they wanted. They’re a 3-point shooting team — they did that [making 10 of 20 from long range].
“They rolled hard to the basket, got wide-open dunks, uncontested layups — they did that. We didn’t take away anything. They took away stuff from us, but we didn’t take away anything from those guys.”
It might have been a little more difficult had the Celtics played defense, but then again, one will never know.
“I thought tonight, they came out more hungry than we looked,” Stevens said. “And to be expected, right? Last time we were in here, we came out that way. That’s the way these work sometimes. But you have to know that going in. It just can’t happen.”
Jeff Green had a terrible game on 4-for-13 shooting, and yet he still scored a team-high 14 points.
The Knicks shot 53.7 percent overall. They had five players score in double figures, led by 24 points from Carmelo Anthony, who played only 28 minutes, barely breaking a sweat.
The Knicks went to their bench early in such a blowout, and it provided 63 points.
The Celtics provided . . . nothing.
“We need to embrace this opportunity to get better, to be the best that we can be, and try to compete all the way until the horn and win at the end of the games,” Stevens said. “And I think that’s something that we’ve just got to get better at. It’s not a knock on anybody. It’s just where it is. It’s where we are.”
Where they are is on a slow march to nowhere, faced with the reality that while they may have a chance to steal a win here or there (such as Wednesday night against 14-31 Philadelphia), more often than not, they will lose. By a lot.
Like they did Tuesday, once again.Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BaxterHolmes.