HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — How much more of this can you take?
We’ve seen just about enough here at the hideout. The Knicks are a mess right now, an absolute mess. And it’s a strain on the basketball-loving eyes to watch this disaster in baggy shorts play out night after night.
Just so we’re clear, the Knicks are 0-for-the-month right now. Talk about March Madness. This is more like March Sadness for Knicks fans who this time a month ago had dreams of upsetting one of the big boys on their Linsanity-fueled ride to the Eastern Conference finals and potentially (in whatever alternate universe you choose) beyond.
The reality is the Knicks, who face the Bulls in Chicago tonight (8 p.m. ET on ESPN) are going to be lucky to make the playoffs the way they are playing right now. They have chemistry issues, to say the least. All those smiles and the energy we saw when they were rolling has vanished.
A team that was the best story in basketball a few weeks ago is no more. Those fears of what happens to their flow when Carmelo Anthony returns have been realized, though we’re not prepared to blame this all on Anthony. There is collective blame to go around here, as Ken Berger of CBSSports.com highlighted when he talked to Mike D’Antoni and Amar’e Stoudemire and dubbed them the “no-fun Knicks”:
These are dark days for the Knicks, who hit a point of no return Sunday with a listless 106-94 loss to the 76ers, whom they treated like a pickup opponent at the YMCA rather than the likely winner of the Atlantic Division.
“I think we could’ve put up a better fight,” Stoudemire said. “We’ve got to do a better job of knowing the importance of games. This was a big game for us, a conference and divisional team. We’ve got to do a better job of knowing that and really going after it.”
The Knicks went after nothing but pity points Sunday, mailing in a home matinee that came one day after an 0-4 road trip — that came one day before a game in Chicago against the Bulls (34-9), who have the best record in the NBA.
“Yeah, it’s just definitely, definitely not easy,” Stoudemire said. “We have Chicago and a lot of games within this month against tough, competitive teams.”
And what Stoudemire was saying there without actually saying it is this, to borrow a phrase from “Coffee Talk” from the old Saturday Night Live days: The Knicks are neither tough, nor competitive. Discuss.
“We hit a snag and we seem to wither,” D’Antoni said. For whatever reason, we haven’t overcome any kind of obstacles. … It seemed like we were down two and the world was caving in.”
Yes, the Knicks were down two at halftime, 51-49, and then the world did cave in. Despite the fact that D’Antoni had warned them in the locker room that the Sixers are the best team in the league in terms of third-quarter point differential, they went out and watched Philadelphia ring up a 38-point quarter to take an 89-73 lead.
“It just didn’t resonate with them,” D’Antoni said.
Everyone seemed to be worried about Jeremy Lin and whether or not he would be able to handle the pressure that came along with his sudden rise in popularity, and yet it seems like the rest of the Knicks (D’Antoni included) are the ones struggling the most in the aftermath of Linsanity.
The concerns about Lin weren’t totally off. He has endured some of his own individual struggles, including turnover issues that were there when he was playing lights out. But you can hardly blame him alone for the Knicks’ recent struggles. It’s been a system-wide hiccup that has cost them and could wind up costing them a postseason trip if they are not careful.