Knicks Are Firmly In Crisis Mode Despite Positive Spin After Loss To Denver and Gallinari

Published on: 22nd January, 2012

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Knicks Are Firmly In Crisis Mode Despite Positive Spin After Loss To Denver and Gallinari  | read this item

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New York – There were lots of positives and feel-good kinds of comments from the Knicks players and head coach after yet, another bitter 119-114 loss tonight in double overtime to the Denver Gallinari’s. The coach talked about how the Knicks played better, how the offensive flow was improved, and how everybody was “buying into what we are trying to do” but the bottom line, tonight, is simple. The Knicks went down tonight to their sixth consecutive loss. Their record on the season dropped to 6-10. And, to make matters worse, they lost to the team that absconded with all of their key roster depth in the Carmelo Anthony blockbuster trade engineered last year by Knicks owner, Jim Dolan.

Oh yeah, to add further insult, the Nuggets were led tonight by former Knick fan favorite, Danilo Gallinari, who outscored Anthony in a head-to-head matchup with 37 points (to Anthony’s 25 on 10 for 30 shooting) and generally outplayed Knicks owner, Jim Dolan’s huge in-season 2011 acquisition.

“It’s special not just for me but I think for everybody,” said Gallinari, who was loudly cheered. “Whenever you come to the Garden to play, you always find extra motivation and it’s always special.”

The three key players tonight for Nuggets coach George Karl, as it turned out were all former Knicks, each getting extra satisfaction from coming into New York and showing Knicks fans, D’Antoni, and especially, Dolan what a huge mistake they may have made last year to essentially gut the Knicks roster to acquire an ultra-talented player in Anthony who may prove not to be a fit with D’Antoni’s offensive schemes.

Al Harrington, the former Knicks forward, scored 22 of his 24 points after halftime for the Nuggets, allowing them to withstand Anthony’s attempt to rally the Knicks after his poor shooting had them behind until the final minutes of regulation.

And then there was Timofey Mozgov, a little used 7-foot center for the Knicks last year who was essentially a throw-in in the Anthony trade. All Mozgov did tonight was to outplay Amar’e Stoudemire in the first half, outscoring “Stat” 10 to 6, shooting 5 of 8 from the field and blocking two shots for good measure. He consistently beat Stoudemire down the court for open layups, something that seems to be happening with increasing frequency with Stoudemire so far this season.

Denver has been playing very well this season, having come into the game with an 11-5 record. The Knicks season, thus far, has been an unmitigated disaster.  As D’Antoni surely realizes (but he won’t publically admit to), he doesn’t have an NBA-grade point guard to orchestrate the talent on this roster.

Besides Gallinari, the Knicks’ lottery pick in 2009, the Nuggets also got Mozgov, point guard Raymond Felton, and Wilson Chandler who all were among the Knicks’ top six players. That’s a lot to give up even for a potent scorer like Anthony — too much, many Knicks fans thought, and there were reports former team president Donnie Walsh did, too, but he was overruled by Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan.

The lack of depth has been crippling this season, where the Knicks have no reliable scorer beyond Anthony and Stoudemire. The Nuggets, meanwhile, thrive because of their balance, with a number of players capable of leading them in scoring.

And though Denver general manager Masai Ujiri said after the deal that the Nuggets “got killed,” they’ve been much better since the deal. Denver is 30-12 in the regular season since the trade, while New York fell to just 20-24.

Anthony, who spent the first 7 1/2 years of his career with the Nuggets before they granted him a trade, was on his way to a nightmare first game against them. He threw away a pass that Gallinari turned into the tiebreaking layup with 5:19 left in regulation, committed an offensive foul on his next possession that Nene followed with a dunk for a four-point lead, and Denver was up six with under 2 1/2 minutes remaining.

But Anthony finally got going with some drives to the basket, and after Gallinari managed only one free throw with 7.3 seconds left, Anthony made a jumper with three defenders around him to tie it at 98 with 1.7 seconds to go.

His 3-pointer with 2:33 left in the first OT snapped a 100-all tie, and after Andre Miller tied it with a desperation 3 to beat the shot clock, Anthony knocked in a jumper to put New York back ahead with 1:02 remaining. It stayed that way until Nene was fouled grabbing the rebound of Anthony’s missed jumper with 9.2 seconds left, making both free throws to tie it again.

Anthony lost the ball out of bounds with 0.3 seconds left, and the Knicks dodged a bullet when Miller’s lob pass to an unguarded Corey Brewer hit the rim and bounced away, setting up another OT.

The Knicks led for the final time at 111-110 on Anthony’s jumper with 1:38 to play, but Gallinari made two free throws and Harrington hit a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 115-111 with 46 seconds to go.

“We had a chance to win, it’s all about winning with me,” Stoudemire said. “It’s not about numbers, it’s not about shots. It’s just about winning. So we had a chance to win, we had momentum going, just couldn’t pull it out.”

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