By Max Marcilla
October 30th, 2013. The Knicks were back. New York felt the exciting vibe of a new season of basketball, just one year removed from a year of success. The woeful Milwaukee Bucks were in town, and with new acquisitions including Andrea Bargnani, Metta World Peace, Beno Udrih, and Tim Hardaway Jr., the Knicks were ready to roll.
The first half was great, and immediately, the dedicated Garden crowd was prepared for another exciting year. The Knicks went on to win the game, but the way they won happened to foreshadow the Knicks dreadful season: win or loss, New York does not play four good quarters.
In the second half, despite the loss, the Bucks were the team that controlled the game, outscoring the Knicks 52-34 in the final two quarters. From that half on, New York has been atrocious, and there is no way around that.
The next day, the Knicks got a Halloween scare when Derrick Rose hit a game-winner, and it only got worse from there. From defeats at the hands of the worst teams (76ers), to a pitiful 16-21 record at the World’s Most Famous Arena, to being the victim of blowouts to nearly everyone, this certainly was a season to forget.
At one point in the season, just a few days ago (believe it or not), the Knicks actually looked like a team that was about to turn it around, make a run for the playoffs, and maybe even make some noise. They won eight straight games, and most of them in dominant fashion. The last two games, however, were a big reality check for the streaking Knicks, and they soon remembered why they have been under .500 almost the entire season.
Last night was one of the worst games of
the season all time. The Knicks gave up 51 points in the third quarter. Yes, that is a fact. Read that over several times, but it is true. It is very hard to believe it is possible to give up that many points in one quarter, but it happened. As broken down by Coach Nick, of www.BBallBreakdown.com in this YouTube video (click here to watch) the Knicks did about everything wrong on the defensive end in this quarter. From simple fundamental mistakes, to just getting overpowered by a weak Lakers squad, the Knicks were brutal.
Just a reminder, this is not the first time the Knicks have been embarrassed in a big game. In fact, it has happened several times this season, most recently Sunday after blowing a double-digit second half lead to the Cavaliers, who were without their best player.
Last night got so bad, according to the New York Times, Phil Jackson described the Knicks effort as “awful,” and he left the game to go walk his dog.
It is tough to even think of the Knicks as a playoff team, but as the Eastern Conference is historically bad, the Knicks are very much alive mathematically. Realistically, it is a long-shot. New York is just three games behind Atlanta for the lowly eighth seed, and still have eleven games to go.
The numbers don’t rule them out, but the inconsistent play and inability to come up big in the clutch will likely eliminate the Knicks in the coming weeks. This season, there has been a total of 15 games lost by the Knicks by five points or less, and two other games in which they lost in overtime. When the time is right for a big shot, or a big win, the Knicks haven’t delivered.
In nine different games, the Knicks were just one shot or one defensive stop away from winning, but ended up losing, including games against the Bulls, Rockets (twice), Pacers, Nuggets, Wizards, Bucks, Kings, and Mavericks.
If the Knicks won just three of those nine games, a task that could’ve been done easily, they’d be tied with the Hawks for the eighth seed, and instead of talking about free agency, the New York media would be covering a tight playoff race.
No, that wouldn’t cover up some of the awful losses the Knicks have suffered, but at least they’d have a chance at the playoffs, and hope — something that has been missing this year at the Garden.
This season has been a rough one from the start, and with the Knicks playing more than half their games against teams with winning records, that offseason coverage may be getting started pretty soon.