Despite loss, Frank Ntilikina says Knicks ‘can build something good here’

2:27 AM ET

NEW YORK — Courtney Lee and other New York Knicks veterans schooled prolonged ago that rookie Frank Ntilikina isn’t easy to intimidate.

“Frank’s a competitor,” Lee pronounced late Monday night. “In practice, he’s going during everybody.”

The rest of a basketball universe schooled a same about Ntilikina on Monday night when he shoved LeBron James a few times late in a initial entertain of a Knicks’ diversion contra a Cleveland Cavaliers.

Ntilikina insisted following that he would’ve pushed any actor that was preventing him from inbounding a ball, as James was.

But other Knicks knew that James’ new comments about a bar flitting over Dennis Smith Jr. got underneath Ntilikina’s skin. So, yes, Ntilikina was expected promulgation a summary when he shoved a four-time MVP.

“For somebody to go in a media and contend something about him — or contend it wasn’t about him — we mean, he took it personal. And that’s what all competitors do,” Lee said. “So, he was dismissed adult and prepared to play.”

Ntilikina’s preference to pull James lighted his teammates — and a Madison Square Garden throng — in what incited out to be a unsatisfactory 104-101 Knicks loss.

Enes Kanter, who had his possess open back-and-forth with James, came to Ntilikina’s invulnerability quickly, going face-to-face with a three-time NBA champ.

The play resulted in a double technical and might have suggested something critical about this immature Knicks team: They play for any other and aren’t simply intimidated.

“It showed a chemistry of a team, a thinking. We’ll quarrel together in all a games,” Ntilikina said. “It was good to have them right here and they know I’ll be here for them. That’s only how we are.”

Ntilikina also showed again on Monday because a Knicks aren’t jumping to any LeBron-like conclusions about their preference to breeze him over Smith. Ntilikina had 6 steals opposite Cleveland — a largest single-game steals sum for a Knicks rookie given 1987 when Mark Jackson had seven.

The Knicks, as James forked out progressing in a day, have been acid for a indicate ensure and a fringe defender for some time. While it’s still early, Ntilikina is providing justification that New York might have found both when they drafted him.

He hounds hostile ball-handlers and is gentle using a Knicks’ offense. He’s also played good so distant with Kristaps Porzingis.

Entering play on Monday, Ntilikina and Porzingis had a best net potency of any two-player multiple that had played during slightest 50 mins (plus-47). They’d common a justice for only 60 mins together, so it’s too early to pull any clever conclusions. But a series shows because a Knicks are eager about their immature core.

“We can build something good here and I’m certain we’re going to,” Ntilikina said.

The Knicks unsuccessful to be good during critical stretches on Monday night. They couldn’t strengthen a 23-point lead during home opposite Cleveland — an unforgivable impiety for a peculiarity NBA team. They stumbled in a fourth quarter, vouchsafing James and a Cavs measure 43 points and take a diversion they should have lost. Many Knicks pronounced following that there were copiousness of profitable lessons to be schooled from this game.

One of them, of course, was clear: They have a rookie indicate ensure who isn’t going to behind down from anyone.

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