Cleaning House – Knicks Fire Mike Woodson and Staff


Following their most disappointing season in recent memory, the Knicks have announced the firing of head coach Mike Woodson and the entire coaching staff on Monday.

Just one season removed from a 54-28 record and achieving the Knicks’ first Atlantic Division title since the 1993-1994 season, Woodson finds himself unemployed after a season where the group started 3-13, suffered prolonged injuries, and failed to gel as a team. The club missed the playoffs and finished with a 37-45 record.

In an official statement, Knicks president Phil Jackson did not place sole blame on Woodson, but stressed the need for the team to have a fresh start next year.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mike Woodson and his entire staff,” said Jackson. “The coaches and players on this team had an extremely difficult 2013-14 season, and blame should not be put on one individual. But the time has come for change throughout the franchise as we start the journey to assess and build this team for next season and beyond.”

The other staff members relieved of their duties include Herb Williams, Jim Todd, Darrell Walker, LaSalle Thompson and Dave Hopla.

Woodson’s record over 2.5 seasons with the Knicks is 109-79. At press time, Woodson has declined to comment on his release.

Per the New York Post, possible coaching candidates include Steve Kerr and Derek Fisher.


It had to be done. As much as I personally liked Woodson, the team’s play this year, on offense and defense, has been inexcusable. We were horrible in fourth quarter execution, ran Melo into the ground every game with too many minutes, and had the worst perimeter defense iamginable (switch! switch! switch!). To go from second in the East to ninth is an indictment on Woodson’s ability too large for Jackson to overlook.

Far as the new coaching candidates, I’m ambivalent at the moment. While the idea of a rookie coach is a little disconcerting, I’d trust Phil gambling there over just hiring retreads from around the league. Above all, at least we can say we’re starting with a clean slate. Your move now, Melo.

[Video] Rest Easy, NBA Shoelaces: JR Smith Fined $50K for Unsportsmanlike Conduct

This is unacceptable. It’s just got to stop. – MIKE WOODSON


JR Smith’s reign of terror on the shoelaces of fellow NBA players has come to end with the league announcement of a $50,000 fine for what the NBA has termed as “repeated unsportsmanlike conduct.”

The fine came down after footage from last night’s win over the Detroit Pistons exposed Smith attempting to untie the laces of Greg Monroe while at the free throw line. This was the third time Smith has been caught in camera doing this. It was previous done against the Maverick’s Shawn Marion and the Rockets’ Dwight Howard.

Prior to last night’s game, Knicks coach Mike Woodson declared that Smith’s behavior had no place in basketball. Smith revealedon Twitter that he usually does the shoelace trick at least once a game.

At press time, Smith has not commented on the fine.








JR is going to learn one day that his reputation precedes him and not in a good way. After missing the first five games of the season due to a drug suspension, you’d think he’d be more careful in how he carries himself. D-Wade got away with a lot worse against the Knicks a few years back in the playoffs and that’s only because he doesn’t have a rep for involving himself in nonsense (at least on the court). And it didn’t help Smith any that Rod Thorn, the NBA Director of Operations, was in attendance last night.

If you already don’t like JR, you’ll use this as just another example of how he’s a detriment to the team. For me, an untied shoelace is the least of my worries. If anything, his play so far this year justifies few fines. Still, I’m maintaining my All-Star break deadline for him to get it together. I also haven’t forgotten Woody’s early season proclamation that the off-season knee-surgery will take JR most of the season to bounce back from. In the meantime, Woody needs to put some backbone behind his words and sit JR when his actual play becomes a liability.

Frustration and Futility — Raptors Complete Back to Back Sweep, Beats Knicks 115-110


Even with Carmelo Anthony out nursing a bum ankle, there was some hope going into these back to back Raptor games that the Knicks could find a spark and possibly go into the New Year just one game out of first place in the Atlantic Division. What New York and their fans got was a painful reminder of just how bad this Knicks team is. Despite playing hard down the stretch, New York displayed the worst of their defensive woes with needless switching and bad rebounding, allowing the Raptors to weather a late rally and storm back themselves to close out the Knicks.


KILLED ON THE BOARDS: The Knicks losing the rebounding battle is no surprise (45-37), but giving up 13 offensive rebounds is a death blow. The Raptors got so many second chance opportunities in the fourth. The Knicks were put into defensive scrambles that lead to open drives and three-pointers. Most disappointing here was Tyson Chandler, who managed just 2 rebounds in 27 minutes of play.


RAN AROUND THE COURT: The gave up three big runs over the course of the game that made winning this game unlikely. With the score tight early in the second quarter, the Knicks went into a zone defense and succumbed to a 12-0 run to go down 52-41. Overall, they were outscored 31-22 in the quarter and down 57-44 at halftime. In the third, the Knicks were on the wrong side of a 15-2 run and were behind by as much as 23 points before chipping away to take a 85-71 deficit into the fourth.


HAVE ALL THE 3-POINTERS YOU WANT, TORONTO!: The Raptors shot a deadly 47% from downtown (15/32), with Terrence Ross hitting a career-high seven treys. The perimeter was wide open and every guard, and even a forward or two, seemed to get in on the fun. The Knicks couldn’t rotate in time, and the constant, flat-out idiotic switching created repeated mismatches in Toronto’s favor.


THE PLAY THAT SEALED IT: Amar’e Stoudemire’s post-scoring, along with some good passing from Toure Murry, were the main factors in allowing the Knicks to trim the lead to six, 101-95. Demar Derozan had the ball and got away with pushing off Murry, who toppled to the floor. When Derozan tried to fly past, Murry reached out and swiped him, which Derozan sold well by toppling over. The hit was ruled a flagrant, leading to a five-point swing with both free throws made and a three-pointer swished on the extra possession, puting the Knicks in an 11-point hole (106-95) they never crawled out of.


JR THE PG: Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni being out continues to hurt badly. There were a few plays down the stretch that went nowhere due to JR having to be a playmaker and set up the offense.


THE POSITIVES BECOME NEGATED: Stoudemire (23 points, 9 rebounds) and Chandler (16 points) had solid scoring games, but the lack of defense neutralized that. The team couldn’t get stops or rebounds when it mattered. Woodson opted to sit Andrea Bargnani (12 points) in the fourth. Like last night’s game, Bargnani started strong in first and became a non-factor in the ensuing quarters.


NON-TRADE COMES BACK TO BITE US: While I think the Knicks made a good move not giving up so many players and a first round pick for Kyle Lowry, he sure did lit up New York tonight. He nearly had a triple double, going for 32 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assists. The man out-rebounded everyone on the Knicks except Stoudemire. Speaking of guards…


NY BACKCOURT: JR Smith was 1-8 until late in the game, still managing to put up a respectable stat line of 13 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. However, with the Melo out the team was in dire need of scoring and playmaking, two things he couldn’t shoulder. Woodson went with Murry over Beno Udrih, who had already notched 4 turnovers before the fourth. Murry made some bad passes himself, but he at least showed some semblance of defense.

Iman Shumpert played like he wanted to be left in Toronto with Landry Fields and Steve Novak. He constantly gambled (and lost) on steals, leading to his man beating him backdoor for layups.


FRUSTATION LEVELS HIGH: Shumpert was seen barking back at Woodson in the waning minutes. Chandler also shoved Jonas Valanciunas under the basket. After the game, Chandler had to restrained by Herb Williams for some unknown reason.


FROM TERRIBLE BACK TO BAD: Is there any hope going into 2014? Well, at least when Melo finally comes back, the team will still be bad and flawed, but just a little less terrible than they are right now.

Amar’e Stoudemire Out Indefinitely with Knee Swelling?


The questions about if Amar’e Stoudemire’s knees would hold up sans a minute restriction have been answered, as the injury-ridden former All-Star may be sitting indefinitely due to swelling.

The news came in scrimmage practice following the Knicks’ 102-101 loss at home to the Washington Wizards. According to Coach Mike Woodson, Stoudemire could be “out a while” due to the flare-ups.

Last night, Stoudemire took to Twitter and refuted the injury claims, stating he is only being held back as a precaution.

Fans, IM NOT INJURED, just want u to know I’m ONLY stay’n bk bc of 6 games n 9 days w/ bk2bks! Body & Knees feel great!

The Knicks play tonight on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks.


While I’d like to share Stat’s optimism, history tells me the man is banged up. This injury now reduces the Knicks available big men to Andrea Bargnani and Cole Aldrich. Tyson Chandler may be back this week, but likely not for tonight. I’m convinced the boxing gods hate us…


Melo the Closer – Knicks 111, Hawks 106


The Knicks overcame the heartbreak of Friday’s defeat in Boston by putting together a wholly efficient offensive performance to take a 111-106 victory over a red-hot shooting Atlanta Hawks team at Madison Square Garden. Outside of one moping player, all was well in NYC last night.


GOOD AND BAD DEFENSE: The Knicks did an excellent job of disrupting the Hawks offense with deflections and steals. They forced 12 turnovers in the first half and 27 for the entire game. It was completely necessary to offset the scorching shooting of the Hawks, who shot around 60% for most of the game. The percentage was due to the inside dominance of Paul Millsap (18 points, 8 rebounds) and Al Horford (17 points, 6 rebounds) coupled with the Knicks guards amazingly losing Kyle Korver on the perimeter (13 points, 4-9 from three).

THE SPARKS: We know Melo will get his, but the question with this Knicks team is who backs up our star player. Last night it was Tim Hardaway Jr. (13 points) who was aggressive getting to the rim for several dunks in the first half. Stoudemire (9 points, 5 rebounds) had a quieter game by his recent standards, but his output was great in getting the Knicks breathing room in the second quarter despite the Hawks shooting around 56% in the first half.

MELO THE FOCUS BUT TEAM EFFORT: The second half is where the team has had problems and in the third bad defense reared its ugly head. The Knicks had a 62-48 lead after the first few minutes, but left Korver open for back to back treys to help ignite a 15-6 run. ATL could not miss from the perimeter and were just behind 81-77 going into the fourth.

Up until that point, Melo had shot 9/15 from the field. There were a few rushed shots from him, but outside of that the team made his job much easier. Prigioni was dishing sweet passes to Melo and Bargnani. And speaking of Prigioni, his shooting kept the defense honest, dropping 11 points (3-6 from downtown). This gave NY a nice 15-point cushion late — under those cirmcumstances, Melo’s heat-check three, which went in to make the lead 106-93, was welcomed. Melo ended with another good stat line of 35 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

The reason for the seemingly close score was Atlanta hitting four straight threes in less than two minutes of garbage time.

SULKING JR: Although JR Smith got the starting assignment at small forward, he managed just 1-8 from the field in 24 minutes (benched for all of the 4th). He looked like he was at a funeral on the sidelines with Prigioni trying to console him. This comes on the heels of JR just attempting one shot against Boston.

A lot of fans are ready to ship JR out, but my memory is not short. His bench play last year was key in our team finishing at the second seed. With the knee surgery, I’ll give JR at least until the All-Star break to get it together.



Sorry Pat, Nothing Personal — Bargnani and Melo Spoil Ewing’s Coaching Debut


He had that shoot-first mentality. He had some of the same looks but he wasn’t hesitating, which I like. He was very aggressive on the offensive end tonight. I guess he was tired of hearing [he wasn’t]. – Carmelo Anthony on Bargnani

I’m still trying to learn him as a coach. I told our coaches, hell, he needs to speak up and talk more and act like he’s a part of this. He was pretty good tonight. He can’t be a tease because I’m going to expect that from him every time. – Mike Woodson on Bargnani

The Knicks finally got what we’ve been waiting to see since day one of Andrea Bargnani’s contract signing with the Knicks — frontcourt chemistry with team captain Carmelo Anthony. The two combined for a massive 53 points, 16 rebounds, 9 assists and 6 blocks as the Knicks cruised to a 101-91 win in Charlotte over the Bobcats.

The Knicks had a strong first half powered by ball movement and drives to the rim. Bargnani was not hesitant with his shot and hit several treys and even executed a crossover at the top of the key. He took 16 shots in the first half and scored 15 points. Equally important was Raymond Felton, who chipped in 10 points, 4 assists, and made sure the ball was either swinging around the perimeter to the open man, or attacking the interior defense. Melo crashed the boards with 4 offensive rebounds in the first half in addition to 16 points on 6-13 shooting.

THIRD QUARTER ATTACK: After missing his first three shots in the third, Bargnani caught fire starting with a block and hitting a three-pointer to make it 61-49. He hit a mid-range jumper off a pick n’roll with Felton, and Shumpert added a corner three off an assist from Melo to make it 66-49. The Bobcats sped up the tempo and got some easy looks to get within 10 (74-64), but a trio of threes from Metta World Peace, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Pablo Prigioni pushed the lead to 88-69. The Knicks would finish with seven threes in the quarter.

4TH QUARTER EXECUTION:  The Knicks were a little absent-minded early in the fourth. Behind NY nemesis Kemba Walker, the Bobcats were able to get the deficit down to 11. However, Bargnani again sparked the Knicks on both sides of the ball, getting a block and hitting a three-pointer to make it 97-81. Melo’s jumper was working, allowing him and Bargnani to space the floor with both being inside and outside threats. The danger of a Bargnani three late in the quarter made the defense collapse and allowed for a sweet pass inside for Melo and an easy layup.

CAN BARGNANI DO THIS EVERY NIGHT?: No, we can’t expect Bargnani to start dropping stat lines of 25 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks at will. Let’s keep in mind this was the Bobcats. However, we should expect the effort and focus he showed tonight. Knicks fans got on him in his Garden debut because he was passive and unfocused, not because he was missing shots. If he brings this effort every night, the Knicks will be exactly where they hope to be on offense and defense.

MELO COMES ALIVE: So far this season, Melo has been good in every area except his shooting. That changed tonight with his 28 points on 54% shooting. He was great on the boards (8 rebounds, 5 offensive) and looked to get teammates involved at every turn (6 assists). This is a glimpse of how effective the offense can be when it isn’t predictable with the entire load falling on Melo’s shoulders.

TEAM MEETING WORKED: After a weak effort against the Bobcats earlier this week, the Knicks held a private players meeting to hash out their problems. The result was a team who put together their first solid 48 minutes of basketball the entire season.

OFFENSE LIFE COME SUNDAY: The Knicks will have their hands full when they meet the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. The offensive will get another lift with JR Smith making his season debut.

[Video] New York Knicks: The Top 100 Plays of the 2012-2013 Season


The 2012-2013 season is at an end for the New York Knicks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t relive all the great moments from the last seven months that returned the Knicks to prominence. From our team captains (Melo, Chandler, Stat) to our tough role players, you’ll see plays you vividly remember (like J-Kidd’s four-play against Brooklyn), to others just as spectacular, but forgotten over the course of the year (like Novak and JR smashing on the Spurs). Even if you’re still down about the second round playoff exit, these highlights will undoubtedly bring a smile to your face.

Much respect goes to for taking that time to put together this awesome collection. Go there to register and talk Knicks all throughout the off-season.




























TOP 10


Knicks Implode in Second Half, Fall to Heat 99-93


I needed 24 hours to cool down before writing about this game. For one quarter, the Knicks looked like the formidable team we saw in November and December — sweet passing, hot three-point shooting and our bigs rolling to the basket for easy slams. As expected, the Miami Heat made a second half run that was exacerbated by bad defensive rotations and head-scratching lineups down the stretch. No, yesterday’s game isn’t a sole reason to become irate as a Knicks fan, but it sure as hell was one to make you highly annoyed.

JASON KIDD RESURRECTED: Without question, the Knicks highlight of the game was Kidd retrieving his jumper from El Segundo. The man was on fire in the first half in nailing fourth straight treys.  In addition, he nabbed eight rebounds, caused several deflections and got three steals. The Heat defense phased him out in the second half, but hopefully this performance will do wonders for his confidence.

REALLY ONE GOOD QUARTER: A lot has been going around over the last 24 hours about the Knicks playing really well over the first half, but it was really just the second quarter, where NY outscored Miami 37-22. In the first, no one could score outside of Melo, who had 17 of NY’s 22 points.

THE WALKING USELESS: James White got the starting assignment again and might as well have been wearing a Heat uniform. In less than five minutes, he had three fouls, one of which being a three-point play given up to Mario Chalmers on the Heat’s first possession.

Steve Novak had three open looks from downtown that he bricked. His biggest detriment was on defense, where he gave up a defensive rebound by being out-hustled by Ray Allen which lead to the LeBron James trey that tied the game.

Why these two got burn while Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby languished on the bench was mind-blowing.

JR GUNNING: Jr Smith went 5-18 from the field and took 14 treys! Where was the leash for this man? Another Woodson blunder had JR still in chucking while benching Stoudemire, who had been giving Miami fits down low. JR was handling the ball way too much with his more blatant mistakes being two telegraphed cross-court passes that LeBron picked off (the last being the game-killer in the last 30 seconds).

MELO HURT AND SHUT DOWN: Melo had 24 points at halftime but injured his arm on a three-pointer in the second. He only went 3-11 in the second half which was combination of James, the Heat help defense, and Stat not being on the floor. When they did play together, Melo’s pick and roll with Stat lead to two easy dunks.

GET IT TOGETHER, WOODY: Coach Woodson is quick to give guys the Ice Cube early 90’s screwface when they mess up. He needs to give himself that face in the mirror. The Heat experimented with many lineups, but in crunch time their Big Three is on the floor, and that’s why they closed the fourth strong (outscoring the Knicks 26-16). On our end, Stat rotted on the bench while JR was cold and the Heat defense zeroed in on Melo.

And again, not playing K-Mart or Camby while guys like Novak weren’t scoring and getting the red-headed stepchild treatment is inexcusable.

CRYING AND GIVING UP POINTS: Sure, LeBron James did his share of complaining (and even gets caught on camera calling a ref a “bitch ass nigga..”). But guess what — King James doesn’t do it when the game is still in play. Raymond Felton did it at the end of the third and didn’t get back on defense, leading to an open three-pointer from Shane Battier that brought the Heat within four, 77-73. In the fourth, James got away with a foul on Chandler, who sat on his ass and literally threw a fit while James sprinted back, got an offensive rebound, and put in a layup to get the Heat up 91-87. Those two sequences where huge momentum swings and five important points the Knicks literally gave away.

The Knicks get to redeem themselves tonight in Cleveland against the Cavaliers. This is by no means a guaranteed win, as the Knicks have had a lot of problems winning up there in recent years going back to the LeBron era.

[Video] Are You Not Entertained?! Curry & Chandler Post Career Highs, Knicks Win Thriller Over Warriors

Golden State Warriors' Curry drives between New York Knicks' Martin and Prigioni in their NBA basketball game in New York

Games like this will have you beside yourself. Warriors point guard Steph Curry walked into the Garden last night, became possessed, and put on one of the most amazing shooting displays I’ve ever seen. I think I speak for every Knicks fan when I say I’m thankful we only have to see this kid twice a year (We damn near got a repeat of the infamous “Double Nickel”). But luckily we had our own beast last night in Tyson Chandler, along with high-level scoring from Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith to pull out an important home victory. While the game wasn’t decided until the final seconds, the Knicks made some crucial adjustments to pull this one out.


CHANDLER HAS A GAME FOR THE AGES:  With no David Lee to counteract him in the middle, Tyson Chandler was feasting from the opening tip. Our man in the middle had 13 rebounds in the first quarter along with seven points. He never let up throughout the entire game and snatched 10 offensive rebounds and ended up with a career high of 28 rebounds (the most by a Knicks player in over 20 years).

While we can’t expect Chandler to grab that many rebounds regularly, the team definitely needs that high energy as the defense begins and ends with him.


FELTON TAKES A BEATING BUT PROVES HIS WORTH: For most of this game poor Raymond Felton was getting the Ike-Tina Turner treatment from Curry. Sometimes it was Curry taking advantage of the Knicks’s overall poor transition defense and popping pull-up treys off fast breaks. Other times it was beating Felton off the dribble and getting to the rim or nailing short jumpers. At halftime, the kid had 27 points and was 4/6 from downtown.

Curry dropped 11 points on Felton’s head in the third and a three-pointer briefly gave them the lead (67-65) with over 7 minutes left. Felton responded with his own three that helped NY get back in front 77-73, but Curry continued blitzing from downtown. He had four more treys (one being an absolute dagger with just 4 seconds left on the shot clock to put the Warriors up 103-102).

At this point, you’d think Felton would have been sufficiently demoralized. But the man remained focused even after missing two wide-open momentum threes and bricking two free throws. On the other end, he finally succeeded in pushing Curry off the three-point line and forced him into a jumper he was able to block. The key defensive play resulted in a score off a JR Smith jumper to make it 107-105. Felton would later steal a simple inbounds pass to burn more time off the clock and even though he bricked two more crucial free throws, he secured his own offensive rebound to kill additional time.

His stat line overall doesn’t jump out at you (10 pts on 3/10 shooting, 4 assists), but Felton’s 4 steals were invaluable.


JR FROM DOWNTOWN: The only Knick consistently hitting from downtown last night was JR Smith, who had a great game on 10/19 shooting (6/11 from the arc). Smith is much better from the arc when he catches and shoots as opposed to a bunch of dribbling. He was quick with the trigger and seemed to have a timely triple every time Curry started feeling himself. And another overlooked contribution from JR was his five aggressive rebounds, several on them in the key fourth quarter.


STAT CORRECTS 1ST HALF WOES: Amar’e Stoudemire came in with a dunk late in the first quarter and promptly caught two cheap fouls. He picked up his third early in the second and got a tech for mocking the referee. Wasn’t solely his fault, but Stat’s problems were huge in the second unit going scoreless for six minutes. That allowed Golden State to make a run behind Curry’s hot hand to tie midway in the second and only be down 58-53 at halftime.

The third was a little better but Stat too often found himself switched onto the perimeter on defense. The fourth was different with Stat, Melo and Chandler playing at the same time. Melo made it a point to look for Stat when he drew double teams, resulting in Amar’e getting several easy dunks.

While the rebounding (4) could have been better, Stat ended up with a very solid 14 points on 6/7 shooting.


MELO’S 35 POINTS: Melo went 10/26 but there’s more behind those numbers. Yes, he took a few bad shots (two very ball iso ball possessions late in the fourth), but other times it was the result of the offense being stagnant and the guards passing to him late in the shot clock looking to be bailed out. With his shooting erratic, he got to the line (13-15) and moved the ball to the open man (Felton, Stat etc.) and notched 8 assists. Overall he made the right decisions, and his late three-pointer and post-up jumper are two of the baskets that took this game from Golden State.


WOODY’S HEAD-SCRATCHER: Coach Woodson left me dumbfounded with the decision to leave Felton on Curry. A few times JR got the assignment, but it wasn’t until Shumpert got on him that we got a breather from the three-point barrage. Granted, no one was going to be stopping Curry last night, but at least Shumpert would have made him work a little harder, as he did in the second quarter in being physical.  Shump made his defensive presence known all the night to the tune of 6 steals and securing a key turnover late in the fourth — he and Chandler forced Jarrett Jack into a baseline trap resulting in a travel.

Outside of that, the most important decision Woody did right was making sure Jason Kidd and Novak had nice seats on the bench as their contributions were nil.


IT’S A TEAM GAME: In all the marveling about Curry’s 54 points, people forget that basketball is a team sport for a reason. The rest of the starters combined for 5 points at halftime and 13 points for the game. The team outside of Curry had 51 points. Once the ball got taken out of Steph’s hands down the stretch, the Knicks victory was sealed.


JASON KIDD IS MIKE BIBBY STATUS: I get no joy out of saying that, but Kidd should be in the doghouse for the foreseeable future. The man cannot hit an open shot to save his life — he bricked four wide open threes and couldn’t get anything going. I do think Kidd gets out of this slump, but for now he needs a mental and physical rest… on the bench.


K-MART’S WELCOMED DEFENSE: Kenyon Martin had a very limited 5 minutes of work in the second quarter. But in that stretch we saw why he should have a nice place on this team. He got switched off on Curry and forced him into a pass and later on covered up Novak getting burned with some timely help defense. If Woody insists on playing Stat and Novak at the same time, a guy like Martin can help tremendously in covering the defensive mistakes those two are prone to make.

The Knicks get to enjoy their victory today but need to get refocused on Friday when they face the Wizards, who embarrassed them earlier in the month.

Welcome to 3rd Place! Knicks Defense Fails Again, Raptors Win 100-98


Rinse and repeat… the Knicks yet again showed a lack of defensive awareness and late-game execution last night and suffered their second disappointing loss to the Toronto Raptors in consecutive weeks. The losses before were infuriating, but at least fans could hold on to the fact the squad was still firmly #2 in the Eastern Conference. Well, now these embarrassing defeats are sliding New York further down the ranks and now at the third seed.


PLAYING DEFENSE WHEN THEY WANT TO: How erratic was the defense? The Knicks gave up 32 points in the opening quarter as the Raptors shot a crazy 58%. Then the Knicks clamped down in the second and hold Toronto to just 16 points on 6/22 shooting. They follow that up with a wretched third quarter where they give up 31 points, which ended up being too much for the Knicks to overcome in the fourth despite outscoring the Raptors 28-21.

Several extremely lazy defensive plays stood out during the game. In the first quarter, Melo let a Raptor guard come down the lane for layup while putting a half-hearted push on him, resulting in a foul and a three-point play. In the second, Steve Novak failed to rotate when the Raptors swung the ball around the perimeter and gave up an open three. JR Smith foolish gambled on a steal in the third and got burned for a trey, and Amar’e Stoudemire lost track of his man on an inbounds play and got dunked on.

The constant defensive switching continues to be the death of this team. It is completely inexcusable that this hasn’t been corrected as the recurrent mismatches down the stretch gives teams, no matter how mediorce, great chances at winning. The guards (all of them) have to fight harder to get over simple screens. And when they can’t, our big men (Stat, Tyson), need to briefly trap and scramble back to their man as opposed to trying to D up a guard on the perimeter. Rudy Gay made a mockery of Stat on the perimeter because of the constant switching and Chandler got duped into a bad foul on Demar Derozan near the three-point line. Until this is fixed, the Knicks defense will remain broken.


THE TURNING POINT: As inconsistent as the defense was, the Knicks got several emphatic stops late in the fourth that gave them chances to win. Jason Kidd had a huge block on Lowry that led to Felton pushing the ball up the court with the Raptors defense in disarray and the game tied at 95. He passed to a wide open Kidd at the top of the key. But Kidd, despite hitting two treys earlier in the game, passed the ball right back. Felton fired it to him again as Kidd still had a good look until he bungled the pass. The Knicks would come up empty on that trip and Rudy Gay wouldn’t hesitate on the other end — he nailed a jumper to put the Raps up 95-93. The Knicks would tie it once more, but there momentum was effectively gone.

Remember the Jason Kidd that hit this three-point dagger on the Nets earlier this season? That man is long gone.


PLAY SMARTER, NOT HARDER: The hard effort and play was there for most of the fourth — Melo dropped 30 points and Chandler had an impressive 5 blocks. It was the end-game mental lapses that killed any chance of a win. With this cast of veterans, the decision-making has got to get better. Chandler should not have been guarding Lowry on the perimeter late (again the result of defensive switching), which lead to a floater that gave the Raptors the lead for good with less than 30 seconds left.


WOODY’S HYPOCRISY: You know what’s sad? When the Knicks were still flying high in December, Woodson had no problem experimenting with different starting lineups. Sometimes Ronnie Brewer would get the call and other times it’d be Chris Copeland or even James White. So why when the team is playing its worst basketball of the season do you stick with a lineup that’s been failing for weeks? It makes zero sense.


Onto another important Atlantic division game on Sunday when the Knicks face the Sixers.