TOK – New York Knicks Through 20

A look at the New York Knicks through 20 games of the regular season

In the coming months we are going to be starting up “Turn On The Knicks” – Job descriptions for writing positions will be released in January along with our new openings for Turn On The Jets. However, I will be contributing to both sites as will Chris Celletti, who does terrific Knicks work over at SB Nation as well. Outside of Twitter commentary, we want to keep our pulse on what has been a thrilling Knicks season so far. Hence, every 10 games moving forward we will review what we have seen and what we think moving forward 

Current Record: 15-5, first place in Atlantic Division, first place in Eastern Conference

Most Impressive Win: How can you top winning in Miami by 20 points without Carmelo Anthony? The early season comeback win in San Antonio is a close second. Yet what might even be more impressive is how the Knicks have routinely blown out their inferior competition. There have been no let-down losses against the Detroits and Orlandos of the world.

Worst Loss: The only one that stands out as a truly brutal one was the beating they took in Houston by 28 points. Obviously the overtime loss in Brooklyn stung a little bit from a bragging rights perspective but it isn’t like the Knicks laid a complete egg that night.

Best Player: Of course this has to be Carmelo Anthony, who is right in the middle of the MVP discussion. Anthony is averaging 26.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists per night while shooting 43% from downtown. More importantly, there is a greater all around urgency to his game, particularly on the defensive end. He seems to be finally fully embracing every aspect of being both a team’s leader…and their leading scorer.

Most Pleasant Surprises: Despite being more of his usual sporadic self as of late. JR Smith remains a viable 6th Man of the Year Candidate with 13.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists and strong defense off the bench. Smith has been more reliable than expected and of course had that gem of a game winner in Charlotte. Tyson Chandler’s offense (over 70% from the field!) has been a huge boost and the amount of quality minutes from Rasheed Wallace has helped tremendously on the defensive end.

Biggest X-Factor: Stats don’t do justice to what Jason Kidd has brought to the Knicks backcourt. He is a knockdown three point shooter (50% from behind the arc), facilitates the offense and is averaging nearly 2 steals per game. His ability to comfortably play two-guard has been enormous in settling down the Knicks rotation.

Other Mentions: The next time somebody says “Man, the Knicks really miss Jeremy Lin” will be the first. Raymond Felton has been solid from day one as the starting point guard. For the record, he is outperforming Lin in every major statistical category.

Biggest Disappointment: Marcus Camby has been unable to stay healthy and when he has been out there, hasn’t been able to contribute much. Considering that Chris Copeland has handled his limited minutes well and that Amare Stoudemire will be back soon enough, it is hard to see him making much of an impact at all this year.

State of the Union: Could you have really asked for a better start? The Knicks have the best record in the Eastern Conference, remain undefeated at home and have blown out the Miami Heat twice. Despite their often joked about advanced edge, they have shown tremendous depth, energy and outside shooting. Can they sustain this 60 win pace? It is hard to expect that but they are firmly in the mix for a #2 seed in the conference and the current favorite for an Atlantic Division title.

What is even more exciting is that both Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert will be returning in the coming month or so from their respective injuries. Stoudemire has publicly claimed he is comfortable coming off the bench and he better be because that is where the Knicks need him. He should be able to provide a down low scoring punch off the bench and step in to take the offensive lead on nights when the 3 pointers aren’t falling or Anthony isn’t shooting well. Shumpert is a terrific on-ball defender who will likely take Ronnie Brewer’s (who has been very good) place in the starting line-up, allowing him to become part of the second line with Amare.

The Knicks have ten games throughout the rest of December and have a real chance to put some distance between themselves Brooklyn and Boston (currently 3.5 and 4 games back respectively). There are some fun ones coming up starting tonight in BK. After that Mike D’Antoni and the Lakers come to MSG on Thursday, Lin-Sanity is in the building this Monday and then Brooklyn plays their first ever game here next Wednesday.

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A Night To Enjoy The New York Knicks

The New York Knicks gave us at least one day to enjoy this playoffs

Since about half way through the second quarter of the New York Knicks/Miami Heat first round series, it has been a punchline. A Knicks team bogged down in injuries and incompetence mercifully waiting to have their season ended amid questions about Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, the future of the point guard position, Mike Woodson and just about every other component of the organization.

Those questions aren’t going anywhere and will likely be revisited this Thursday morning when the heavily favored Heat should be preparing for their second round opponent. However, yesterday the Knicks and their fans were finally given a long overdue playoff moment to enjoy. The record breaking 13 game losing streak came to an end and for one afternoon, the Knicks big three of Anthony, Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler was superior to the Dream Team’s big three of LeBrom James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The Eastern Conference is weak. By the time next season comes around it will be the Heat and everybody else. Derrick Rose won’t be back until the middle of next season and Luol Deng will be recovering from wrist surgery, casting doubts over the Bulls. Boston will be yet another year older. Who knows what will happen in Orlando. Indiana, Atlanta and Philadelphia will likely remain good but certainly nowhere near great.

The general core of this Knicks roster isn’t going anywhere. When the dust settles, the line of thinking will revolve around Mike Woodson having a full off-season and training camp to implement his system, while Jeremy Lin, Chandler, Stoudemire and Anthony will have the needed time to perfect their chemistry. Outside of Miami, who will have a better top four in the East than the Knicks next season?

That is the glass half full logical, which will rightly be met with skepticism. There is no sustained evidence to show that this collection of players can function together and that they can survive with such erratic two guard and bench play. As of now, the evidence points to a Anthony led team being unable to win a championship.

Yet, for one day there was hope. There was hope that LeBron and Wade won’t reign supreme without breaking a sweat the next five years. There was the sight of Anthony being good enough to carry a team in the playoffs. There was Stoudemire throwing up a double-double and playing defense. There was Chandler stomping around the paint like a Defensive Player of the Year should.

It gave us a day to enjoy the Knicks and three more days to humor ourselves with the what if of Miami having to come back to MSG for Game 6, where there would be one of the most epic crowds in recent MSG history.

I wouldn’t bank on Jeremy Lin playing and if he does, it isn’t going to be for more than 10-12 minutes. There is no miracle coming off the bench at this point, it is just Anthony, Stoudemire, Chandler and whatever everybody else can muster up.

New York Knicks First Round Preview: Rise Up

A first round preview of Knicks/Heat and the rest of the NBA first round match-ups

After all the ups and downs of the roller coaster regular season for the New York Knicks, they finished with a respectable 36-30 regular season record. Unfortunately it was only good enough for the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference and has set them up with a match-up with the Miami Heat in round one, where they find themselves substantial underdogs. Can the Knicks shock the world and send the league’s most hated team packing home early?

The answer is probably not. The safe money in this series is the Heat in 5 or 6. I think the Knicks take it to 6 games but will ultimately fall short 4-2. How can they prove me wrong?

The Knicks must split with Miami in the first two games to create some type of pressure on the Heat when game 3 arrives at Madison Square Garden. Miami has no home court advantage. Their stands will be filled with fair weather fans, Knicks fans and white shirts covering empty chairs while people are arriving late and leaving early. Madison Square Garden is going to be a madhouse. The Knicks are a different team at home and should be able to at least split in games 3 and 4. The longer this series goes, the more pressure is on the Dream Team who is led by a player who isn’t known for his exploits in pressure situations.

Now is Carmelo Anthony’s moment. He has been playing as well as, if not better than any player in the NBA the past month. He needs to match LeBron James shot for shot and go beyond him in the 4th quarter. Yet even that won’t be enough for the Knicks, as they will need their supporting cast led by Amare Stoudemire to have enough firepower to match Dwayne Wade and to a lesser extent Chris Bosh.

Beyond that, it is on Tyson Chandler to dominate the paint with Miami running out a Ronny Turiaf and Joel Anthony combination at center. Iman Shumpert to D up Dwyane Wade like he did Derrick Rose a few weeks back and the JR Smith/Steve Novak combination to outscore Miami’s questionable bench.

Miami brings a defensive intensity matched by few, if any teams in the league and the Knicks have major issues at point guard and finding consistent secondary scoring options to Anthony. Can Stoudemire give them 18-22 points a night? Can JR Smith find any type of consistency? Will Iman Shumpert hit his open threes? These are the questions that will determine if this series will be a long one or a laugher.

The rest of my first round picks –

Chicago over Philadelphia in 5 – The Sixers have been a disaster the second half of the season. Chicago has been the East’s best team from start to finish and will use Evan Turner’s foolish words about wanting them in round one as fuel. The Sixers don’t have a single reliable scorer who can get them points in a big spot. That isn’t going to cut it against Chicago’s D.

Indiana over Orlando in 6 – The Magic have been a circus all year. Some think they rally around Dwight Howard quitting on them and make a bit of a “Ewing Theory” run. They might steal a game or two here but that’s it.

Boston over Atlanta in 6 – This will be a tighter series than many expect. The Hawks are confident against Boston and have athleticism that will be tough for them to deal with but in the end, the old heads are a safe bet.

San Antonio over Utah in 6 – Utah is feisty and will be tough to beat in their building yet Greg Popovich’s unbelievable coaching job will continue into the second round. The Spurs are too good to lose in the first round in back to back years.

Oklahoma City over Dallas in 7 – Awesome first round series. The champs will put up a hell of a fight but they simply aren’t on Oklahoma City’s level.

Memphis over Los Angeles Clippers in 6 – I love Memphis as a NBA Finals darkhorse.

Los Angeles Lakers over Denver  in 5 – Andrew Bynum has developed into arguably one of the ten best players in the NBA this year and will be too much for Denver to handle inside. The Nuggets also lack a big time scorer to go shot for shot with Kobe.

Guest Contributor Justin Fritze, weighs in with his Eastern and Western Conference picks –

Bulls vs. Sixers –

This series is going to be fascinating to watch. Will Derrick Rose be able to find his groove or is he going to just muscle his way into the lane and hope he draws fouls? Like the year before when the Sixers gave the Heat trouble, I can see the pass-first Sixers taking two games at best (one on the road/one in Chicago’s shiny new arena), but the newly acquired Rip Hamilton finally coming through with 3 pointers to put away the Sixers with inside out passing off the double team.

But what if that doesn’t happen? What if Derrick Rose turns it over, Iguodala gets to the line, and Boozer once and for all proves that he isn’t worth the contract he was given? Derrick Rose, despite the weight of the city crushing his soul, should get a pass if he doesn’t play lights out. This guy has had an injury to almost every part of his body throughout the year. Still taking Bulls in 6.

Knicks vs. Heat –

A few things will happen if the Heat don’t win this in 4. Knick fans will become psychotic, Lebron James will have that PTSD look in his eyes, and Dwyane Wade will become a man on fire.

But let us all have a little reflection on the roster of guards the Knicks have, because next year half of them will retire or look for big money. Mike Bibby, the oldest “33 year old” I’ve ever seen, sounded fun at the beginning of the year but looks genuinely tired, physically/spiritually/subconsciously. Baron Davis, who after tossing Blake Griffin a basketball through a moonroof was sent to basketball purgatory, rebounding to the Knicks and looking like a little fat Buddha with a bad back, to now possibly being the savior of the Knicks playoff hopes. Toney Douglas, who as soon as he enters the game causes Knick fans to pour out a double shot of Jager, and the always social media savvy JR Smith. JR Smith loves the ladies.

Let’s not forget the greatest 3 point shooter in the universe Steve “I Am Legend” Novak. I will be buying a Novak jersey regardless of what happens at any point after today. Ok Knick fans. Are you ready? Knicks in 7. KNICKS IN 7! Am I drunk still from the Rangers game 7 win? You bet your ass I am.

Pacers vs. Magic –

Fun series right? Nope. No Dwight Howard (who I loathe almost as much as Metta Call Of Duty), so now it’s going to be a 3 point festival on the Magic side of the ball. The Pacers are going to take this in 5, and I don’t even imagine it being close. Sure the Magic are going to try and change their philosophy of 3 ball/inside to Dwight, but Stan Van Gundy is already thinking of a new job. Why stress this thing when you know for a fact everything is getting blown up at the end of the year? Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert are going to dominate inside, and guys like Ryan Anderson and JJ Reddick are going to get desperate real early in game 4, chucking up 3’s a la Novakia (a Russian cousin of Steve Novak). Pacers in 5.

Celtics vs. Hawks –

The great battle of old soldiers against the constant underachievers. They should put a picture of Joe Johnson/JR Smith/Al Horford in the digital version of Merriam Webster’s new dictionary right next to the word. Great 2K12 team, not so much in reality. I really think the Celtics are going to put in a statement game at home, get that fire going early, and put the Hawks down 2-0 quick. This is going to go 6 though, as the Celtics can’t keep the pace up all the way through. Rondo is going to put up a triple double at some point in this series, and Ray Allen will rain 3’s from the high heavens. My only fear is Josh Smith and his scowl. Want something to chew on? Josh Smith has never made an all star game. Celtics in 6. Fear the eyes of Pavlovic.

Thunder vs. Mavericks 

Last night does not make anyone in Oklahoma City feel good. The Thunder looked lost, anxious, nervous, and generally off balance for most of the night as Dallas looked every bit the team that got them to the Finals last year. There were a few things swinging the wrong way. Durant couldn’t get an open look, the knife’s edge that is Russell Westbrook taking jumpers became the only steady thing the Thunder had going, and the enforcer of the Thunder (Kendrick Perkins) was getting worked over by the bigs of Dallas. So where does that leave the series? 7 games. No less. Dirk is going to shoot the lights out, Jason Terry is again crushing the souls of opposing fans with effortless 3 pointers, and the duo of Vince Carter and Jason Kidd has more playoff experience than the entire Thunder roster. Durant and his game winner will quickly be forgotten if they split games going into Dallas. Thunder in 7.

Spurs vs. Jazz 

While I am a big fan of the new look Jazz (without Williams/Boozer), I know that the Spurs want to get this series out of the way as fast as possible. Call it the will of the ancients, the old man strength syndrome or simply the wisdom of the ages, the Spurs and the Mavericks are going to simply out-scheme teams like the Thunder and the Jazz. The Spurs are healthier, younger (Joseph/Leonard), and somehow outpaced every single team in the West with the best coach in the NBA manning the helm like an old fishing boat captain. Spurs in 5

Clippers vs. Grizzlies

The Clippers have everything they need to counter the inside out game of the Grizzlies. Chris Paul has proven this entire season that he is the best closing point guard in the game, but I (along with the rest of casual observers) do not trust Vinny in crunch time. Despite an assistant coach masquerading as a head coach, I see the force of Nick Young/Mo Williams and Chris Paul doing too much to let the Grizzlies run away with it. Clippers in 6.

Lakers vs. Nuggets

Denver has one thing going for it. Age. Their guards are 21, 24, 24, 26, 27, 27 and the ancient Andre Miller at 36. They might actually outcoach the Lakers, but the coinflip that is Kobe Bryant’s mentality on whether to shoot/get others involved is going to be the outcome of this series. He knows the window is just about closed, so look for him to try and get this thing out of the way in 5 games. Lakers in 5. Nuggets will be back next year, and probably the year after that so don’t get too discouraged Denver.

New York Knicks: Finding A Way In Big Spots

TOJ on the New York Knicks finding a way to gut out a win in Milwaukee last night

The New York Knicks can be infuriating to watch at times. This season has been a bizarre roller coaster of about five different teams, all of which are deeply flawed but unquestionably talented. The current version is entirely too reliant on Carmelo Anthony on the offensive end and is still prone to mind numbing lapses on defense despite having two candidates for first team All-Defense in Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert.

Prior to this week starting, we knew the Knicks would need to split with Chicago and beat Milwaukee if they wanted a chance to make the playoffs. They pulled it off. Last night was a textbook example of this team finding a way despite their flaws. Milwaukee gave them their best shot in their building. Monta Ellis finally woke up and ripped off 35 points. Brandon Jennings hit a number of ridiculous shots en route to 22 points. Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders were blocking shots like Serge Ibaka and Dwight Howard but the Knicks still prevailed.

The primary reason is that Carmelo Anthony is playing as well as he ever has in his career. He dropped in 32 points on an efficient 13-26 from the field, along with grabbing 10 rebounds. Whenever the Knicks offense begins to sputter, he has found a way to bail them out. His support on the offensive end has been erratic at best. Tyson Chandler added 19 last night but really at this point JR Smith or Iman Shumper is the team’s number two scoring option.

Smith has been wildly inconsistent. He literally has zero conscience and will continue to jack up shots and make head scratching plays mixed in with making unbelievably difficult shots and distributing the ball like a point guard. Last night he was brutal for 3 and a 1/2 quarters but woke up when it mattered most and hit what turned out to be the game winning 3 pointer in the final minute. Simply put, he deserves the minutes over Landry Fields, a shooting guard who can’t shoot. I like Landry’s intangibles but you can’t play him in crunch time.

At point guard, Baron Davis is the starter in name only. He logged a forgetful 19 minutes last night and had more turnovers than assists. For some reason Davis repeatedly drives into the paint and passes up an easy shot to attempt a difficult pass that is usually stolen. The Knicks crunch time point guard is turning into rookie Iman Shumpert who played 42 minutes last night. We know how good Shumpert is on defense but his offense game still has a ways to go. He is inconsistent shooting the ball but similar to Smith, doesn’t lack confidence to attack the basket.

So this is what you have with the Knicks. A team entirely too reliant on an erratic shooting guard and a rookie point guard but a gutsy team that has shown an ability to scrap out wins. When you play defense and with confidence on offense, the wins will come. Will they come consistently enough to win a playoff series? That is the question that still needs to be answered.

Carmelo Anthony Takes Over

TOJ on the show Carmelo Anthony put on at MSG today

The performance Carmelo Anthony put on at Madison Square Garden today was the type that made you laugh at anybody who regretted giving up Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and the immortal Timofey Mozgov. For all the headaches of the past season and a half, the Knicks victory over the Chicago Bulls, the de facto best team in the league, showed why the Anthony was worth it.

There are only a handful of players in this league with an ability to completely take over a game and will an inferior team to victory over a superior team, Anthony is one of those players. He put up a gaudy 43 points on 16-31 shooting from the field but more importantly was on when it mattered the most as he hit the game tying 3 to force overtime and the game winning 3 in overtime.

Both shots were drilled with a defender right in his face and both shots are an example of why nobody wants to play the New York Knicks in the first round. The Knicks were able to overcome a dreadful performance by JR Smith, who missed more shots today than some people miss in a season, a no show from starting point guard Baron Davis and a rare goose egg from sharpshooter Steve Novak.

It was Anthony taking charge on offense, Iman Shumpert playing like a grizzled veteran with his defense of Derrick Rose and Tyson Chandler protecting the paint that carried the now 29-27 Knicks over the Eastern Conference’s number one seed, a team they could very well see again in the first round.

We knew when Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin were lost to injuries, it would be on Anthony to carry this team and so far he has embraced and excelled with the task. His work is far from finished, the Knicks could still go anywhere from out of the playoffs to a number four seed over their last ten games. Yet for today, Anthony gave New York City a performance to remember and to remind us that he was worth the blockbuster trade that acquired him, worth parting ways with Mike D’Antoni and worth dealing with his previous rough patches.

Few players in this league can own crunch time how Anthony did today, the Knicks are lucky to have a player who can and will always be a threat as long as they have him.

New York Knicks: At The Crossroads

At 28-27, the New York Knicks season will be determined over the next six games

There are 11 games left in the one of the most bizarre seasons in New York Knicks history and we are no closer to knowing whether they will miss playoffs, sneak in as a seven or eight seed or possibly steal the Atlantic Division title and the four seed that comes with it.

The next six games should teach us all we need to know about this version of the Knicks, the one without Jeremy Lin and Amare Stoudemire. The one who is dangerously reliant on steady play from Baron Davis and JR Smith, and the one who needs Carmelo Anthony to be every bit the franchise player he claims to be.

Tomorrow it is the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden, with Derrick Rose likely returning from an extended layoff because of a groin injury and then Tuesday it will be the Bulls again but in the United Center. The Knicks need a split, not just for their playoff positioning but for their confidence if they get Chicago in the first round. Logically, tomorrow is the best chance to steal one when they could feed off the crowd energy and Rose is shaking off the cobwebs from his absence.

After the home and home with Chicago, the Knicks play Milwaukee on the road who is right behind them for the 8 seed. Simply put, this is a must win. They will likely be about even in the standings prior to this game and currently the Bucks have a 2-1 season series lead.

Following Milwaukee, the Knicks have a three game homestand against the lowly Wizards, the Heat and the Celtics. If the Knicks have any aspirations of grabbing the four seed, they must beat Boston in their building. A win against Miami would also be important for confidence in case the Knicks get them in the first round.

At a minimum, the Knicks must come through these next 6 games with a 4-2 record. You can tolerate a split with Chicago and a loss to Miami but they have to handle business against the Bucks and Celtics.

I still firmly believe the Knicks are a dangerous team in the playoffs because of their renewed commitment to defense, Carmelo Anthony, and their outside shooting. If Stoudemire or Lin return, it is an added bonus but it is the defense that truly makes them a threat. Tyson Chandler deserve the Defensive Player of the Year award for leading the turnaround on a team that has been allergic to defense since the days of Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason. It would be a damn shame to give the award to clown Dwight Howard as his team slowly tanks around his lack of character and idiocy.

This has been such a bizarre season, that you wouldn’t be surprised if the Knicks finished 9-2 or 2-9. The sprint to the finish line starts tomorrow when Madison Square Garden should be rocking like a playoff game.

New York Knicks: All About ‘Melo Now

It is time for Carmelo Anthony to make his mark on this city

Carmelo Anthony has had his moments since joining the New York Knicks last season. Unfortunately, they have been overshadowed by an alleged dispute with former head coach Mike D’Antoni and a winning streak that he wasn’t apart of. Yet, now Anthony is part of the Knicks winning 7 of their last 8, moving back to .500 and getting within striking distance of first place in the Atlantic Division…and now, more than ever, Anthony must assert himself as this team’s franchise player.

Amare Stoudemire is likely out until the playoffs begin, if he is lucky and the Knicks happen to get there. Jeremy Lin is banged up and won’t be suiting up tonight against Orlando, the conference’s third best team. Anthony is dealing with a groin pull himself which he gutted through in the fourth quarter and will gut through again tonight against the Magic. It is admirable to see him play through pain, especially when the lifting will be so heavy without his power forward and point guard.

The Knicks have quality role players around Anthony and have learned to win ugly with defense, hustle and rebounding which is a beautiful and welcome sight to basketball fans in this city who have fond memories of the early 90s. Yet, if they are going to get through this brutal stretch of the schedule which is filled with playoff caliber opponents, it must be Anthony who takes the lead on both ends of the floor. The Knicks need their franchise player to carry them to a playoff spot and just maybe a division title.

These are the kind of situations where elite players are made and Anthony knows that.

“A situation like this requires me to step my game up a little bit more, take it up a notch,” Anthony said. “I love moments like this.” – Carmelo Anthony on Monday.

The Knicks brought him here to love moments like this and to thrive in them. There is enough talent around Anthony to make some real noise in the Eastern Conference, now it is up to him to lead the charge.

New York Knicks: Make Or Break Two Weeks

The New York Knicks face a make or break two weeks, but will they have to do it without Amare Stoudemire?

The New York Knicks, for all their ups and downs, currently sit 3 games out of first place in the Atlantic Division and the highly coveted number four seed that comes with it. They are also 2.5 games out of a seven seed and 5 games out of a six seed. Unfortunately, they also only hold a 1.5 game lead on the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. With 17 games left on their schedule, the time to make a move, up or down the standings, is now.

The next two weeks will make or break the New York Knicks season, starting tonight at home against Milwaukee who is the team which sits only 1.5 games behind them for the final playoff spot. Of the Knicks next seven games, five are against teams who will make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference and the last two are against teams right on the outside looking in (the Bucks tonight and Cleveland this Friday).

Complicating matters is the health of Amare Stoudemire’s back. He is questionable for tonight’s game and there are rumors the injury could be more serious than the team is letting on. The Knicks are already without Jared Jeffries for the next two weeks so their depth behind Stoudemire is thin. Look for Josh Harrellson to receive extended work and hopefully pick up some the slack at least in terms of rebounding.

It will be on Carmelo Anthony to pull himself out of his shooting funk and carry a heavier load of the scoring if Stoudemire misses any time. This isn’t last season against Boston in the playoffs when Anthony will have to seemingly take every shot, as he does have capable scorers around him now but he still must lead the way on the offensive side of the court.

Tonight is a critical first step towards burying Milwaukee’s playoff hopes and getting after Philadelphia for the Atlantic Division crown. A loss tonight likely means scrapping with the Bucks for the eight seed the rest of the way and the Knicks don’t have the tiebreaker. This is the kind of game, particularly at home that a player like Carmelo Anthony cannot let the Knicks lose.

Considering their next seven games, tonight is about as close to a must win as it gets…with our without Amare Stoudemire.

New York Knicks: D’Antoni Quits, Focus Shifts To ‘Melo

TOJ on Mike D’Antoni’s resignation, along with Justin’s thoughts on Carmelo Anthony moving forward

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article by Justin was written prior to Mike D’Antoni’s surprising resignation this afternoon. This is a player’s league so nobody should be surprised that the Knicks stuck with Carmelo Anthomy over D’Antoni as the two of them clashed. Beyond that, we know how James Dolan feels about Anthony. He isn’t going anywhere.

You can make a strong argument from both sides on this one. D’Antoni has been here for three seasons and hasn’t accomplished anything. Anthony hasn’t even been here a full 82 games. Then again, D’Antoni continually had his roster shuffled around and whenever he seemed to find a unit that was working, a drastic change was brought upon it. In the end, Anthony lost a scapegoat and now needs to carry this team amid talks that the rest of the locker room is fed up with his style of play. Winning cures everything and the Knicks need to start doing that…now.

Mike Woodson will be the coach for now but expect the Knicks to make a push in the off-season for a big name like Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan or John Calipari. – JC

I used to make a crack about the Knicks wearing the same colors as the Mets. The Mets, in case you aren’t an aficionado of America’s Game (which is really politics, but I’ll let Charlie Pierce toe the line on that one) are the most poorly run organization in baseball. Don’t bother checking the ESPN NY site or their own official website (where that creep Mr. Met is hiding somewhere, crying to himself), it’s only horror tales and sick demented smiles from the ownership group, who are still insisting they’re gonna “give them boys from Philly a good run for their money this season. How you ask? With sheer DETERMINATION.”

It was always good for a smile, and a brief moment of David Lynch-like terror for those who have spent any time watching Knicks classics from the 70’s or the 90’s. To be in ANY way associated with the Mets is essentially the death knell. We’ll look what wears orange ladies and gentlemen.

Carmelo Anthony, in the BRIGHT orange, who is looking like a guy attempting to back down a power forward and leaning like a dope addict, expecting to get the ball and somehow contort himself into a layup And 1.

I personally like that kind of crazy, that “forget reality, this is FUN” kind of insanity that lives on it’s own, somewhere far away from where it can affect other people. So what does this have to do with Carmelo Anthony? Well, he really does think he’s better than he is, that the best answer to scoring is for him to fake a post up, spin, and try and drop one from 8 feet, which is good and all, except they need to go in.

The Knicks have devolved into the sort of thing that belongs in some 12 year old’s 2K12 season and does not in any way resemble a NBA roster. 6 shooters, 2 defenders who can’t play because the shooters are out there for scoring, a power forward who should really be playing center, a center who is overpaid and on the wrong side of 30 despite his obvious 110% work effort, 27 guards and the 2/3/4 man that is Landry Fields.

But hell, I’m a Thunder fan, so when I told some friends last night that the Knicks are the most hilariously entertaining team that doesn’t involve JaVale Magee or Kemba Walker, and boldly predicting them to go up 5, then be down 5, then lose by 10 (which was close), I didn’t say it with any emotion. I said it in a monotone of someone reading a sports almanac.

This is where it is with the Knicks. It’s so fractured and hopeless that people are starting to despise their Lin jerseys. Right Joe? They don’t even want to talk about him or comment as he charges the lane, flailing like a blindfolded, “sans equilibrium” “paper tiger” version of Derrick Rose, (who promptly proceeded to stomp all over everyone’s dreams that Lin could even be on the same court and not look like a complete joke).

Is it going to get better? Sure, just get rid of Amare and Melo, blow everyone’s minds simultaneously, and let Steve Novak, Jared Jeffries, Iman Shumpert, Landry Fields and Tyson Chandler take the reigns as everyone attempts to figure out how to have James Dolan arrested for emotional genocide.

There’s no hell deep enough for a man like Dolan, who let Donnie Walsh go and spends a large amount writing songs like “Wish I Had A Life”, (not even gonna touch that one). He deserves an epic amount of public humiliation for what he has done concerning ticket prices, hopes at relevance, and keeping Knicks fans from watching their team for a good portion of the season, that is until they brought the “fantasy roster” back and couldn’t get a decent string of momentum for longer than 4 minutes.

Everything the Heat did, as bogus and Nixonian as it was, was done knowing full well that these 3 guys will work harder than everyone else in the league at making a system that can utilize their athleticism, length, and basketball IQ. The Knicks are built on old expectations (Carmelo being a 24 year old scoring machine), shaky knees/eye sockets (Amare), ugly point guards (Douglas/Bibby) and overlapping parts (Novak/Smith).

Will I watch? Of course. Everyone in New York is obligated to go down with the ship.

TOJ New York Knicks Rant

A needed release of anger about the New York Knicks, the world’s softest professional sports team

As I wait for news of free agent meetings and hopefully signings to trickle in about the New York Jets. I need to get a quick rant off about the New York Knicks, who are truly nauseating to watch these days.

How soft can you be? You can’t put into the words the disgust around New York City right now when it comes to this team. Amare…you are making 100 million dollars, stop being outworked by Taj Gibson on every single play. Jump. Get rebounds. Play defense. Have pride in yourself as an athlete and as a man as you watch opposing basketball players continually slam the basketball down your throat and jump over you repeatedly for rebounds.

Carmelo…nobody wants to hear your whining about Mike D’Antoni, not until you dive on the floor for loose balls and stop letting the person you are covering continually out hustle you. You aren’t doing enough on offense to merit the lackadaisical effort on the other side of the court…really, nothing should merit lackadaisical effort on defense but it would be easier to stomach if you shot a higher percentage and took over on offense down the stretch. Don’t come to New York and sulk. Be a leader and take this city over.

Mike D’Antoni…you are good as gone but the least you could do is pick a rotation, stay with it and call your superstars out when they aren’t performing. Why not? You think you are coming back next year as your team scraps with the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers for the 8th seed?

Jeremy Lin may not be playing as well as he was last month but he is a rookie (based on playing time) point guard dropped into this toxic situation. He has been good enough for the Knicks to win and at least he is hustling around. At least Iman Shumpert and Landry Fields for all their shortcomings, play defense and run every second they are on the court. Tyson Chandler is currently the only player on this roster worth his big contract, as he battles through injury and still manages to rebound and defend.

The blame goes to the big three, the two “superstars” and the coach. The city is embarrassed of you and you should be embarrassed of yourself.