The Knicks never cease to amaze this season: while they lost away to Miami Heat by 26 points yesterday, New York slumped to a 126-103 defeat at home to the Golden State Warriors on Friday night as their chances for a play-off berth are fading rapidly.
Worse, even Carmelo Anthony has lost the will to compete. With 23 points he top-scored once more for New York, but for most of the game Melo looked tired and uninspired. It didn’t help that the Knicks went to bed at 3am after returning from Miami. With four minutes and 30 seconds left, he threw the towel.
“When we lose games, it’s embarrassing like [Friday night],’’ Anthony said.
The non-contest was over after the first quarter with the Warriors leading, 38-27 – another sign of how this season is over for the Knicks. Stephen Curry, who scored a dazzling 54 points at the Garden in February, hit 12 points, including two threes. He’d get a triple double for the visitors, scoring 27 points. The lethargic Knicks defense often left him wide open.
“It was probably the worst of the year, I thought, from a transition standpoint,” Mike Woodson said of his team’s defense. The Knicks’ rearguard looked confused and overmatched. Thompson, part of the ‘splash brothers’, hit five threes, scoring 25 points overall, and O’Neal, 35 and not precisely in his prime, chipped in with 15 points.
At half-time, a shower of boos rained down from the Garden with the Knicks trailing, 73-52. Threes from Melo, Hardaway Jr. and J.R. Smith briefly boosted the Knicks, cutting the Warriors’ lead to 17 points. The Knicks outscored the Warriors 28-26 in the third stanza, but it was never going to be a renaissance.
J.R. Smith questioned the Knicks’ ‘heart’ after the game. “We’re not playing like we can [turn it around],’’ Smith said. “It’s not a mental thing. It’s a heart thing. Letting people score 50 points in the paint over and over again. We’re not going to win games like that. Guys getting open, hitting shots, high-fiving. I’m not into knocking somebody down and hurting somebody but we got to do something.”
The Knicks’ exasperation culminated when Tyson Chandler got ejected with four minutes and 33 seconds left for jawing Marreese Speights repeatedly. In many ways, Chandler’s anger was nothing more than a concession that the Knicks got beaten by a young, fresh-legged, and ultimately, better team.
It was the tale of their season, and while it was torture to watch, the Knicks are now gradually acknowledging that the play-offs are a distant dream. Trailing the eighth seed by six games, New York can only make it on a technicality.
Slowly attention is turning to next season