A week ago I wrote an article about the New York Knicks failing a big test in Boston when they lost an overtime heartbreaker. The reality is that since Paul Pierce hit that ridiculous three pointer, the Knicks have played their worst basketball of the entire season.
You can tolerate losing when a team is out there scrapping and playing their hearts out. If you don’t have enough talent or catch enough breaks, losses happen and you can accept it. This isn’t the case with the Knicks team, who is overloaded with talent but lacks heart, leadership, and physicality which makes them nearly insufferable to watch at times.
There is no shame in losing in Dallas and San Antonio. Those are tough places to play against two very good teams. It is how they lost those games, by carelessly throwing the ball away and allowing a barrage of uncontested dunks, lay-ups and open three point attempts.
There is shame in losing in Milwaukee, especially when you allow 119 points to a subpar team. How are you letting the Bucks so clearly want a game more than you? Where is the pride?
Today was a must win game at home against the division leading Sixers. The Knicks responded with turnovers, weak defense, and a muddled offensive attack. It became clear by midway through the third quarter that they were going to be outclassed. Outclassed, despite having a roster with their type of talent.
Where does the blame go? Most people want to throw it at Carmelo Anthony but I think Bill Simmons was dead on his analysis of the anger being directed at Anthony in this article. He needs to get better on defense but he is the least of the Knicks problems right now. This is a team that needs to get better across the board on both ends of the floor. Mike D’Antoni needs to find the answers on offense because that is what he is supposed to be able to do. Defense comes from energy, hustle and the willingness to be great on that end of the floor. D’Antoni can’t force that on his players. They need to look in the mirror and step up.
There is a hesitancy to criticize Amare Stoudemire because he came here first last year and chose the Knicks in free agency. I don’t even care about him losing a step on offense. What I do care about is the putrid defensive that trickles down to the rest of this team. He is nearly 7 feet tall and has some measure of athleticism left. There is no reason for him to be THAT bad on defense.
Jeremy Lin has come back down to Earth. Nobody expects him to score at the rate he was last month. He must learn to protect the basketball however, just like Baron Davis must learn to protect the ball.
You can’t have a prominent big man on your team not defend and your point guards not protect the ball. It trickles down the bad habits to the rest of the team.
We are now at the point where it looks like the Knicks will be scrapping for the number eight seed in the East. I still believe anything can happen in these lockout shortened playoffs (see the Knicks last run to the NBA Finals), especially when you have Anthony in short series. For now, can we at least see a little heart?