The other unicorn steals Knicks’ Christmas in bad omen

This was no Merry Kristaps for the Knicks. In fact, Monday’s holiday could foreshadow something grim — as it did a year ago.

Knicks center Enes Kanter was sensational with a 31-point, 22-rebound explosion, but Kristaps Porzingis didn’t have one of his stronger games. That allowed the 76ers’ Joel Embiid and his flock of hot-shooting guards to steal Christmas in a 105-98 upset in the nationally televised Garden matinee.

In the final minute, “Trust The Process’’ chants rang out from the bevy of Sixers fans. Indeed, the Knicks allowed Philly, in its first Christmas appearance since 2001, to promote the progress of its well-worn motto.

Meanwhile, the Knicks — who lost their fifth straight Christmas appearance — didn’t show the stuff to make skeptics believe their season won’t take a downturn as it did after Christmas last year. The Knicks entered last Christmas at 16-13, but lost at home to the Celtics to begin a stretch of nine losses in 10 games, from which they never recovered.

“I thought the crowd was kind of quiet,’’ said Embiid, playing in his first game with the Sixers on Broadway. “I heard it’s always loud, but I love playing in this arena. At one point, [the chants] were getting louder. And I think the Knicks fans were booing. I wish it was louder than that. That means we’re winning.”

Porzingis racked up 22 points, five blocks and seven rebounds, but shot 6-of-19 and uncharacteristically missed five free throws. The beastly Embiid outplayed the unicorn with 25 points on 8-of-17 shooting with 16 rebounds, three assists and three blocks.

In the final insult that cemented his downbeat day, Porzingis, whose shooting percentage has plummeted the past three games (18-of-58) since his return from a knee injury, had a pass intercepted by Ben Simmons. The rookie raced in for a fast-break dunk with 1:06 left, putting the Sixers ahead by eight.

“The biggest issue for us was execution,’’ Porzingis said. “There was a lot of pressure on us [from the Sixers’ defense]. It’s something that we need to get better at. Obviously, the free throws, even myself, I had an off night shooting-wise. I don’t remember the last time I missed five free throws.”

Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

It was a devastating defeat because the slumping Sixers (15-18) had lost nine of their previous 10 games. In addition, the Knicks now take a two-game losing streak into a schedule that will feature 16 of their next 20 games on the road, starting with a three-game trip (Chicago-San Antonio-New Orleans) that begins Wednesday. The Knicks (17-16) are 2-10 away from MSG.

“A team that’s struggling before, at some point that’s going to end,” said Courtney Lee, who added 20 points. “They’re a thirsty and hungry team and they came out and played aggressive from the start. It’s definitely tough for us because it’s our home court and we’ve been protecting home court. And we’re about to go on the road, so we’re not going to have that energy from the crowd pushing us through.”

A physical low-post center, Embiid showed his unicorn traits when he drained his second 3-pointer of the afternoon — a gigantic basket with 2:15 left to give Philly a 101-93 bulge. That’s when the “Process’’ chants — saluting tanking for the long-term betterment of the franchise — erupted on 33rd Street.

“I always like to think that I’m clutch,’’ Embiid said.

Michael Beasley, after his heroic 32-point night Thursday to help beat Boston, had his second straight relatively quiet game — 10 points and missing two key free throws with 1:22 left. The Knicks point guards were a disaster as Jarrett Jack, who went scoreless, and rookie Frank Ntilikina combined for four points on 2-of-13 shooting.

Meanwhile, Philly’s guards hurt the Knicks as J.J. Redick poured in 24 points and T.J. McConnell 15.

Porzingis capped an 8-0 run with a three-point play to tie the score at 89-89 with 5:20 left in the game. But then the Knicks fell apart. A Jack turnover led to a fast-break dunk by Simmons (eight points, eight rebounds, three assists in his Garden debut) and a 93-89 edge with 4:25 left.

The flat ending was not dissimilar to their loss in Detroit on Friday when they coughed up a five-point lead in the final 1:14.

“We just need to learn how to finish the games, especially the fourth quarter,’’ Kanter said.

Kanter — with the first 30-20 game by a Knicks player since David Lee in 2010 — did everything he could to make this a Christmas celebration, with coach Jeff Hornacek saying he was “a man on a mission.’’ But now the mission heads on the road without Tim Hardaway Jr. The Knicks dropped to 6-6 in 12 games without Hardaway.

“Tim will probably be back during some part of that stretch,” Hornacek said, “and give us another guy out there.’’

Hornacek meant sometime during the January road slog.

“We’re going on the road for three games now and it doesn’t matter the [road] record,’’ Kanter said. “We just have to have a game plan, don’t worry about anybody else, just worry about us.’’

The problem is it could really be time to worry.