Knicks Claim Tired Legs In Loss To Sacramento

Published on: 15th January, 2011

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New York — If ever there was a game that crystallized the Knicks’ need for a star of the magnitude of a Carmelo Anthony, it was tonight’s contest against the visiting and lowly Sacramento Kings.  

The Knicks, coming off a four-game west coast trip, looked tired and out of sorts in going down to a Kings team that itself, was road weary. Nevertheless, losing 93-83 to a team like the Kings, losers of three straight coming in, may well have provided a tipping point for Knicks general manager Donnie Walsh to step up his efforts to acquire a player who, on nights like tonight can often take over games and carry a tired team to a win.

Beno Udrih scored 29 points on 11-of-14 shooting, DeMarcus Cousins added 16 points and 10 rebounds, and reserve Carl Landry had 15 points for the Kings, now 1-3 on their six-game road trip.

Tyreke Evans managed just nine points on 4-of-15 shooting in his return to the lineup after missing three games with a sprained left ankle, but the Kings didn’t need much from their star guard on a night when the Knicks couldn’t do anything offensively.

“[The Kings] played well, but — and it’s a big but — we didn’t have it, everybody,” said Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, whose team had to listen to “We want Melo!” chants early on, and boos throughout the night. “Anytime you come back from the West Coast with one day in between, and it’s the third of four games . . . it’s [tough].”

Amar’e Stoudemire struggled for the third time in four games.

Stoudemire had 25 points and 13 rebounds but shot 6 of 22 for New York, which shot a season-worst 31.5 percent from the field. Perhaps still sapped from a tough trip out West, the Knicks had no energy on the offensive end and were booed at home for the first time in a while.

“Coach (Mike) D’Antoni gave us a warning about flying back from the West Coast to the East Coast,” Stoudemire said. “I never experienced it before.”

“I’m sure he’s a little tired,” D’Antoni said of his star big man. “Everybody had a bad game. We just could not do anything offensively. You could see it. Balls were going through our hands. It was just ugly.”

One strategy becoming evident among Knicks opponents is a conscious decision to play Stoudemire more physically. The league knows if they stop Stoudemire from dominating, they will beat the Knicks more often than not because unlike the elite teams, the Knicks don’t have a great second option to go to if Stoudemire is off his game.

Raymond Felton has been a huge surprise this season but let’s face it, on a top-tier NBA contender, Felton is a piece to the puzzle but is absolutely not a number two scoring option. At best, his role on a good team is as a distributor and probably, a third or fourth option as a scorer from his point guard position.

Will it help to get Danilo Gallinari back into the lineup? Sure but in his third year in the league, Gallo has shown to be a streaky long-distance  jump shooter and an inconsistent slasher to the hoop. He projects to be a third option on the offensive end because he can’t always get his own shots. Double-team the Knicks stars and Gallo will clean up with wide open looks at the basket.

And Knicks fans who chanted “We Want Melo” seemed to be thinking along those same lines.

The NBA’s highest-scoring team, averaging 107.8 points, didn’t break 60 until there were less than 9 minutes left. Point guard Raymond Felton was 2 of 15 for six points, while Wilson Chandler missed 10 of his 14 shots.

The Knicks had only one day off after returning from a solid 2-2 trip that concluded with Wednesday’s 131-125 loss in Utah.  D’Antoni said he hoped his players got rest, but also was concerned they might not be sharp against the worst of the West.

“Coming off the West Coast, where these are games that you’ve got to be careful with,” he said before the game.

Sure enough, the Knicks were flat, managing just 15 points in the first quarter and even hearing some boos while trailing by 15 in the first half. They needed a late flurry just to avoid their worst first half of the season and the Kings led 46-42 at the break.

The boos grew louder in the third quarter, when the Knicks went 5 for 21 and managed only 16 points. Udrih scored nine in the period, including a 3-pointer with 37 seconds left that made it 69-58 headed to the fourth.

Udrih then converted a three-point play to open the scoring in the final quarter for a 14-point advantage, and by then it was clear there would be no New York run on this night. The Knicks did get it down to nine later in the period, but Landry made a free throw before consecutive 3-pointers from Udrih and Evans made it 89-73 and sent most of the fans home.

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