It’s starting to look like that ESPN prediction of a 37-45 record was on the generous side. The Knicks put together a decent first half, imploded defensively and offensively in the third, and then had to play catchup in the fourth. They couldn’t get the stops they needed and most alarmingly, our leader Carmelo Anthony was a petulant, unfocused player who had his teammates tuned out and the refs non-calls in his head.
NEW LINEUP: With Felton sitting out with back spasms, Coach Woodson elected to go with Iman Shumpert and Beno Udrih in the backcourt. The frontcourt was manned by Melo, Andrea Bargnani and Kenyon Martin, who NY hoped would bring some toughness and interior defense.
The first quarter was solid with Bargnani getting off to a quick start (7 points in the quarter) by driving to the rim. The interior defense was still a problem, but it didn’t become damning until the second half.
Udrih went scoreless and managed five assists while Shumpert chipped in 11 points. Even with Felton out, the perimeter defense was still abysmal as noted by Rodney Stuckey going for 21 points off the bench and getting into the paint at will.
Melo had a horrid first half where he shot 3-12. He complained about the lack of calls, missed several free throws, and overall played with tunnel vision. This is one the games were you could clearly see he wasn’t trusting his teammates and rushing bad shots. The whining earned him a tech in the third and he didn’t settle down until the fourth. He missed a three with the Knicks down 82-87 which basically sealed the game.
INEXCUSABLE DEFENSE: Sometimes a picture is worth more than any game analysis. For a synopsis of how bad the defense is and why the Knicks have been playing from behind in nearly every game, click on the image below and watch Amar’e Stoudemire. Also note Melo’s reaction on the bench.
This is the reason the team went down by as much as 15 early in the fourth (63-78) and ran out of time despite clawing their way back into it with two minutes remaining.
MORE PAIN TO FOLLOW: It’s not going to get better, as tonight the Knicks have to face the Indiana Pacers, who sport the best record in the league. I see no other scenario but a blowout that rivals what the Spurs did to NY last week.