Sixteen months into his official hiring, the bloom is off the Tom Thibodeau rose.
If you are what your record says you are, as Bill Parcells famously said, Thibodeau’s and Leon Rose’s Knicks are losers.
The Knicks lost their third straight, 113-99 to Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets on Saturday afternoon, amid plenty of Garden boos, falling behind by 28 points early in the fourth quarter in one of the worst performances of the Thibodeau era.
The loss pushed them under the .500 mark at 11-12. It’s the first time they have been beneath .500 since early in the 2020-21 season.
The Knicks are also 0-3 since Thibodeau’s official demotion of veteran point guard Kemba Walker from the rotation.
Jokic, the reigning MVP, was a bull inside and a sniper from deep as he racked up 32 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes.
The undermanned Nuggets led by 44-28 in the second quarter, forcing Thibodeau into a timeout with under 6:30 left before halftime as boos rained down for the first time.
The Knicks closed to within 69-63 midway through the third quarter, with the Garden crowd chanting “Let’s Go Knicks,’’ but then Julius Randle (15 points) coughed it up, leading to a Jeff Green fast-break dunk.
Evan Fournier was intercepted for another Nuggets fast-break hoop as Denver went on a 21-3 run. Jokic was brilliant during the spree — at one point taking a lob inside and breaking through a double team of RJ Barrett and Alec Burks.
The game marked the return of Barrett, who missed the loss to the Bulls on Thursday with a non-COVID illness to snap his 108-game playing streak.
“[Jokic is] the engine that makes them go,’’ Thibodeau said before the game. “They’re a terrific team. When he plays, they’re as good as anyone. They’re tough to deal with. He’s no unique.’’
Denver (11-11) was missing three players due to COVID-19: ex-Knick Austin Rivers, who had a falling out with Thibodeau last season, Bol Bol and Bones Hyland.
That allowed 6-foot-11 former Arizona big man Zeke Nnaji to hurt the Knicks from the 3-point line. He racked up 16 points by halftime, drilling four 3s.
The Nuggets were also missing Jamal Murray (still rehabbing from a torn ACL) and Michael Porter (back surgery).
The game marked the end of a seven-game gauntlet in which the Knicks also faced the Bulls twice, as well as the Lakers, Suns, Hawks and Nets. The Knicks next play in San Antonio on Tuesday night to begin an easier stretch.