Knicks (23-21) Beat Wizards (13-30)

Published on: 25th January, 2011

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Knicks (23-21) Beat Wizards (13-30)

NY Knicks vs Washington Wizards at Madison Sq.Garden: Knicks Amar'e Stoudemire drives Original Filename: _DSC2310.JPG  | read this item

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New York – It was a win tonight and in the NBA, a win is a win is a win. But, even as the New York Knicks were unimpressively defeating the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden, 115-106, snapping a six-game losing streak, the Knicks players know deep down that in the eyes of the league, they are what their record says they are.

Where there was once immense excitement over the way the Knicks had transformed themselves into an exciting team that made them the talk of New Yorkers, NBA players, and league marketing executives, now what remains after their recent reality check with losing basketball is a team that may have been exposed after just half a season.

The record now stands at 23-21, being left bloodied and battered against upper echelon teams like San Antonio and Oklahoma City, as well as a loss to Houston during their recent West Coast swing.

Amar’e Stoudemire, the prized free-agent signee, is now realizing how difficult it is to be the one player on a roster that strikes fear in the hearts and game plans of opposing teams. He’s been getting his butt beaten on for several games now, as defenses have discovered a simple fact to beating the Knicks. If you take off the head of the animal, you will defeat whatever it has left to fight with.

In the NBA, word gets around really fast. Stoudemire has noticed the difference.

“I’ve been getting banged around for a week and a half, now,” he said. “They’re definitely being a lot more physical with me…..after the play contact, too. Thank God for the weight room, though. I can get stronger, too.”

Stoudemire’s overall statistics have dipped precipitously in the month of January compared to the the previous month. He’s gone from a shooting percentage of 53.6% in December to just 42.7% in his last 11. His minutes have dropped from a very high 39 mpg to 35, still an astounding number for a player who has gone through micro-fracture surgery on his knee. His rebounds are down, from 9.7 per game to 8.9 and his scoring is down significantly, from 29.9 to 24.7.

Stoudemire Stats From December 2010 to January 2011

Against a terrible Wizards team, a team that now sits with a 13-30 record, Stoudemire and his mates were able to score without much interference. The problem is, they continue to have trouble stopping the other team, even one as bad as the Wizards, from keeping pace on the scoreboard.

The Knicks had four players in double-figures, led by Stoudemire’s 30 on 13 of 23 shooting. Wilson Chandler added 25, while Raymond Felton and Danilo Gallinari each chipped in with 17.

The Wizards, however, had five players in double-figures, while shooting over 48% from the floor. They outscored the Knicks 36-29 in the second quarter to take a lead into the half, 62-61.

“They wanted it a little more than we wanted it in the second quarter,” said Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. “It’s too bad because we should have or could have put them away  and you have to do that if you want to be a serious team.”

And that’s exactly the point. If the Knicks want to be a serious team, they need to upgrade their talent level. It’s pretty clear they can contend for a playoff spot, perhaps as high as a sixth seed and show good improvement, no, make that great improvement over last season. But, D’Antoni’s right. If they want to be a serious team, a real contender for an NBA championship, this roster, as currently constructed will not compete at that level.

That realization seems to have hit the Knicks faithful here at the Garden where the buzz and the expectations for this team have gone decidedly lower than it had been only two weeks ago.

The only way to get the excitement in this building back to pre-losing streak levels is to win a few games against some of those “serious” teams, starting this Thursday against the Miami Heat, when the Big Three visit the Garden. The stakes and the competition will be decidedly bigger and better but frankly, until the Knicks do something great again, like win against a team of that caliber, Knicks fans will continue to be thankful for the improvement in their team without building any real hopes.

 

 

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