New York – It’s going from very bad to much worse for the Knicks, these days.
They had a terrific opportunity to get back on the winning track tonight. All of the winds were blowing in the right direction. They were at home, in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden, with a struggling, defensively-challenged Golden State Warriors coming in with a 2-5 record.
So, what happened? More of the same play that has seen the Knicks spiraling into the NBA abyss. Uninspired, unintelligent basketball is what the Knicks gave their fans tonight as the Warriors handily defeated the hapless home team, 121-107. The New Yorkers fell to 1-9, the absolute worst start in the history of this franchise. That’s a mouthful….the worst start to a season in the 63-year history of the New York Knickerbockers.
The Warriors played only seven guys any significant minutes tonight and five of those scored in double figures. They had four players with 22 or more – Steven Jackson with 23, Kelenna Azubuike had 22, Monta Ellis with 22, and Corey Maggette had 22. C.J. Watson came off the bench to hit for 19 as the Knicks looked like stationary characters on the court next to the higher-flying, more athletic Warriors, who are probably one of the worst teams in the NBA.
This theme of the Knicks being out of their class athletically is becoming a nightly event but there was a different wrinkle to the beating they took tonight.
In his most damaging comments of his team’s lack of heart, a character assassination if there was one, Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t hold back.
“I thought our lack of fight was the most disappointing thing,” he said. “It’s bad, there’s no doubt about it. We’ve got three days off. We’ll practice hard and we’ll try to figure out something better, and let’s see who wants to come forward.”
D’Antoni is beginning to take on that look of bewilderment we’ve often seen here in New York City from other Knicks players and coaches over the many years of losing this franchise has encountered. He doesn’t seem to have an answer.
“The thing is, we are small but that doesn’t excuse us for people going by us,” he said. “We can’t be slow and small and also, not have fight. Those are not good combinations and that’s where we are now.”
Indeed, this roster, as currently comprised, appears not to be a good combination.
Danilo Gallinari had 19 points and 10 rebounds in his first career double-double for the Knicks, who dropped their sixth straight and fell to 1-9. David Lee scored 17 points and former Warriors forward Al Harrington had 16.
This was a matchup of teams that not only aren’t known for their defensive prowess, they actually live up to their reputations of playing undisciplined, playground-style basketball.
“The game was two teams that actually matched up pretty well against each other, played the same style,” Warriors coach Don Nelson said. “Probably the team that was going to shoot the basketball was going to win and that was us.”
The Knicks continued to display no resistance on the defensive end of the court.
“We knew there was no shot blockers in there,” Ellis said. “Our game plan was to attack the basket, move the ball two times and we would have open shots, and that’s what we did.”
They did it with such ease, one Knick fan was heard screaming, “Bring back Eddy Curry.” Obviously, that fan hasn’t seen Curry play defense.
On the Knicks lack of defensive prowess, even the rookie guard, Toney Douglas could chime in like an old veteran who’s lost too many games in his career. It’s getting scary how he’s learned the rhythm and tenor of a losing team’s post-game locker room in this, after just 10 games.
“Problem is communication,” voiced Douglas. “At the end of the day, they just played harder than us. We didn’t rotate and we weren’t in the right spots at times. Miscommunication and that type of stuff comes back to haunt you at the end of the day.”
One of the biggest culprits in this streak of terrible basketball has been Chris Duhon, the point guard D’Antoni had been counting on to be a leader and the glue to help his young team through the early stages of this season.
“It’s not where we expected or envisioned we’d be,” said Duhon. “We know we’re a much better team than that. It just comes down to us competing and fighting, myself included. I’m probably the main culprit. I try not to worry about it. We just need to go out there and compete and see what happens. And, we’re not doing that right now.”
Another comment from a team veteran about his team not competing. It can’t get any worse than that for a professional sports club, and this is Duhon’s second attack of this still-young season on the character of this roster.
David Lee, usually a calm and collected post-game interview, is feeling the anger.
“This is not good at all, it is very frustrating for us,” he said. “Like Toney just said, we need to continue to play harder and get better and at this point, we’re not where we need to be. We need to figure out where we are going wrong and fix it. If we continue playing the way we’re playing now, it is obviously just not working. Today, Golden State at home, is a game we should win.”
Truer words were never spoken.
Read more of Scott at Sportsreporters.com.