Knicks Go Down To Rockets for Fourth Straight Loss at Home

Published on: 15th November, 2013

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jeremy lin
Lin scored 21 points in Rocket win over Knicks  | read this item

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New York — If you have been around sports teams long enough, interviewed players and coaches, and watched the body language of these participants in the games people play for pay, you tend to get a good sense of a confident, cohesive, winning bunch as well as a similar feeling about players/teams whose collective demeanor seems to be teetering on-the-precipice of oblivion.

Let’s just say this about the 2013-14 New York Knickerbockers, they are getting close to teetering.

After tonight’s 109-106 loss to the visiting Houston Lins, I mean, Rockets, it is beginning to seem clear that this season, about which Knicks owner, James Dolan has said no less than a championship will be acceptable, is not going to be about championships.

Yes, it is early, extremely early in the season and that, at this moment, is the Knicks saving grace. As the games mount though, the elite of the league make their move towards the top and the dregs move inexorably towards the bottom of the standings. The Knicks, even after just eight games and a 3-5 record, are in teetering mode.

Tonight, we had another Carmelo Anthony explosion, with 45-points on his ledger. We even had Andrea Bargnani, the 7-foot, 250-pound jump shooter lighting up the lights with 24 points of his own, even showing a little heart and physicality on the defensive end as he battled Dwight Howard, the Rockets center, in the paint.

But, other than those two scorers, the Knicks had nothing. Raymond Felton showed Knicks fans why Jeremy Lin should never have been allowed to go to another team, getting completely outplayed by the former Knick favorite at the point guard position. Felton’s game has seemed to decompose in front of our very eyes while Lin, the hero of all Knicks fans during the heyday of “LinSanity” two years ago, has improved in all aspects of his game. Tonight, he tallied 21 points after scoring 34 and 31 in his last two games.

Iman Shumpert may or may not be feeling the pressure of the trade rumors swirling around him but he sure has disappeared from the radar screen this season. Instead of being an impact player on both sides of the floor, Shumpert has seemed unsure of himself most of the time. Like other Knicks players on the offensive end, there seems no rhyme or reason to the offensive sets most times. For Shumpert and the rest, it’s essentially a matter of getting out of Anthony’s way and letting him throw up 30 shots per game.

Mike Woodson knows this is not winning basketball we are looking at.

“We’ve let four games in a row at home get away, that’s something we hadn’t done since I’ve been here,” Woodson said. “That’s kind of frustrating from a coach’s standpoint, but we’re still learning each other and trying to figure it out, and we will eventually.”

Lin scored 21 points in Rocket win over Knicks

Lin scored 21 points in Rocket win over Knicks

On a night when Bargnani easily outscored Howard, 24 to 7, it didn’t matter to Howard, who gladly gave up the ball to his skilled guards.

“Jeremy stepped up, James played big and that’s what we need,” Howard said.

It was the Knicks guards inability to stay with James Harden, who after sitting out the Rockets’ last game with an injury lit up the Garden with 36 points, and with Lin that led to the Knicks downfall.

“We played more as a team today,” Lin said. “We really moved the ball, shared the ball. We played really unselfish today and we also did what we needed to do defensively.”

Those who are predicting doom for the Knicks this season really aren’t focused on their won-loss record, now two games under .500 or even, the level of talent former general manager, Glen Grunwald, stocked the roster with before the season. It’s about a locker room and an on-court demeanor that is lacking in intangibles that aren’t always measured, quantitatively. Things like leadership, dynamic personalities who are looked up to by the other players. Sometimes, teams can have all the talent in the world but it’s those little things that can’t be measured which often make the difference between winning and losing.

A Knicks fan was overheard tonight telling a friend after the game, “If Jason Kidd doesn’t make it as a coach in Brooklyn, I’d love to see him back in a Knicks uniform. He would give this team some direction.” A pretty telling remark about leadership and respect, if the Knicks are listening to their fans.

Woodson is trying to get across to his players in this early part of the season the concept of helping one another on defense and being accountable to each other in all facets of the game. After talking to Knicks players after another loss, it’s not clear his message is finding its way.

As early in the season as it still is, the funny thing is, when you have a roster of mismatched talents, lack of chemistry, and confused roles, a season gets awfully late, quickly.

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