The beginning of a new streak, a losing one this time, points to the true identity of the 2014 New York Knicks. A bad defensive team with a mentally weak group that was able to look good for short spurts during the season because of focus, effort and momentum. But when things don’t go their way early, embarrassing losses like the 127-96 one to the Los Angeles Lakers happen.
The Knicks actually led 22-14 after the first 12 minutes, but every mistake they made was punished by a transition basket or fast break on the other end. With every turnover, airball and offensive mistake, their desire and focus defensively evaporated. Tyson Chandler can’t do everything on his own, Pablo Prigioni and Iman Shumpert give almost nothing offensively, and the rest of the team drags the better defensive players down.
The Knicks are now 29-42, three games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the 8th spot in the Eastern conference. Who knows, with 11 games left to play (the Hawks have 13 more), maybe there’s a chance of making a turnaround, but it won’t change how bad they’ve looked for so many stretches this season. Their last chance of repairing that impression was through the eight game winning streak which came to an abrupt, but Knicks don’t seem like a team that will go down fighting. Allowing the Los Angeles Lakers to score 51 points in one quarter isn’t exactly fighting.
Phil Jackson ripped into the team after the game. I’m not sure what he’s trying to achieve with that sort of tactic, but it’s hard to argue with an 11-time NBA champion, who has a franchise as the palm of his hands, although he is in a position he has never filled before in his life. Maybe words from someone everyone is looking at as a savior will galvanize this weird group into another winning streak that will bring back the season to life.
Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points, but there were so many awful moments from him earlier on that it didn’t matter. Tim Hardaway Jr., one of the few bright spots from this season, added 17 points from the bench. Amare Stoudemire scored 16 points and he’s been averaging 17.3 points per game this month, something of a demonstration that there’s still some talent left where it seemed knee injuries would take it away. However, his defense was at its appalling worst, not to mention grabbing only two rebounds and doing anything but being a rim deterrent. Quite the opposite actually.
Mike Woodson looks on from the sideline, scratching his chin, not really knowing what to do. For some teams, a season seems longer than it really is. With so many ups and downs, of being buried than coming back up again before showing their true colors one more time, this has been one exhausting road trip for the Knicks, mostly a bad one. The ending to it is near, and it’s probably not going to be a happy one. They don’t deserve to have one, as weird as that might sound.