These Knicks Won’t Back Down

Maybe you didn’t know what to make of Frank Ntilikina after the Knicks made him their first-round draft choice.

Perhaps you were discouraged by an early-season injury, but impressed by his confidence after he drained two monster 3s in a recent win over the Pacers.

Still, you’re on the fence.

After his actions in the Knicks 104-101 loss to the Cleveland Cavs Monday night at The Garden, it’s time to buy your ticket on the Ntilikina Bandwagon.

[Watch Knicks-Jazz Wednesday on MSG & Download Free on MSG GO]

Ntilikina is Belgian by birth and French by upbringing but he’s got the ‘take no nonsense,’ DNA of a native New Yorker.

At a slender 6-foot-5, 190 pounds, the rookie would not back down against the best player on the planet, a 6-foot-8, 250-pound sculpture known as LeBron James.

Ntilikina was trying to get to the basketball and inbounds the ball when he was obstructed by James. The rookie shoved James. He shoved him again.

If Ntilikina moved James a centimeter you’d need X-ray vision to see it. But that’s not the point. The blossoming rookie wasn’t about to be intimated by the veteran superstar.

“He was in my way to get the ball, to get the ball out of bounds,’’ Ntilikina said. “It could have been anyone so I just pushed him to get the ball in. He was in my way.”

No one – and nothing – is going to stand in the way of Ntilikina trying to achieve his goal of becoming an elite NBA player.

So, if you were on the fence about Ntilikina before the loss to the Cavs, you need to jump off. Now.

[Hahn: Young Knicks Learn Lesson From LeBron & Cavs]

This 19-year-old, the second youngest player in the league, didn’t listen to the boos on draft night or the nonsense that came out of James’ mouth the other day.

James, who has been unable to put his dispute with former Knicks president Phil Jackson in the rearview mirror, recently took a misguided shot at Ntilikina. After the Cavs lost to the Mavericks, James said the Knicks should have drafted Dennis Smith Jr. over Ntilikina.

The King should be worried about his own court.

“The comments, like I said yesterday did not affect me,” Ntilikina said. “People can take whatever they take, whatever they want. As a team, we’re going to stay focused on what we’re doing. I didn’t even think about it.”

Ntilikina had seven points, six steals and three rebounds in 24 minutes in the Knicks loss. They blew a 23-point lead, the most glaring reminder to date that this a young team that’s going to go through some growing pains.

How the Knicks respond the next time they take a big lead will matter more than this setback.

What Knicks fans should find some consolation in is that this team is willing to fight for each other. Ntilikina did not back down from James.

“That’s good,’’ said Knicks coach Jeff Horancek. “A young kid to stand up to the best player in the league. I was happy for Frank to get an opportunity to get out there and play and show him, ‘Yeah, you can say whatever you want but I’m going to still be here and be here for many years.’ Then you had his teammates backing him up. That was great.”

Enter Enes Kanter. Kanter got between Ntilikina and James quicker than it takes a Times Square costume character to demand payment for posing for a photo.

“I don’t care who you are,’’ Kanter said. “What do you call yourself, King, Queen, Princess, whatever you are. You know what? We’re going to fight. Nobody out there is going to punk us.

“He’s a rookie. You call yourself King or whatever. But you can’t just mess with a rookie like that. If you’re going to mess with [someone] go mess with the grown men. I’ll die for my teammates.”

These are the kind of words that are music to New Yorker’s ears.

The Knicks (7-6) have played a brand of basketball that fits this city. They make the extra pass. They help on defense. They have a superstar in Kristaps Porzingis and a tough, fearless, young point guard in Ntilikina.

And, they have each other’s backs.

“We can build something great here,’’ Ntilikina said, “And I’m sure we’re going to.’’

[Watch Knicks-Jazz Wednesday on MSG & Download Free on MSG GO]