Unpredictable Knicks Bury Undermanned Bulls Instead of Woodson

Published on: 12th December, 2013


Van Gundy and Breen
Van Gundy was pulled off the ESPN broadcast of the Knicks game tonight   | read this item

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New York — Only Jim Dolan, the mercurial owner of the Knicks knows whether the clock is ticking on Mike Woodson’s coaching career in New York. But tonight, Woodson’s team may have given him another day on the bench when it took advantage of another undermanned, under-talented roster to defeat the visiting Chicago Bulls, 83-78.

The win didn’t come without plenty of late heartache for Woodson, Knicks fans, and probably, Dolan as the Knicks blew a 23-point third quarter lead only to pull it out at the end.

Unpredictability has been a hallmark of the Knicks organization during the Dolan years and tonight’s game fit organically into that mold as the Knicks had control, lost control, and regained control – but just barely.

Coming off two terrific wins against Brooklyn and Orlando followed by two atrocious losses, by a combined 56-points to the Boston Celtics at home and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland, Knicks fans seem to think the Woodson watch, much like the Mike D’Antoni watch, the Larry Brown watch, and the Isiah Thomas watch is officially on, and will lead to another coaching sacrificial lamb at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

Rumors are flying about Woodson's imminent firing

Rumors are flying about Woodson’s imminent firing

Whether tonight’s win is just a temporary reprieve for Woodson, who is still coaching a 6-15 team, or if this is the start of a run of victories to get the Knicks back into what Dolan pronounced before the season, a “championship contending team,” remains to be seen.

And, true to the unpredictability of this so-far pathetic Knicks season, they were cruising along against a Bulls team that was not only missing Derrick Rose but was without starters, Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler.

The Knicks led by 23 with 5:54 remaining in the third quarter, in full control of this game, as well they should have considering the Bulls injuries to their key players. From that point forward, the game unpredictably changed in the Bulls favor who outscored the Knicks 13-4 to end the quarter, though they were still down 14, 68-54.

The Knicks, in a complete free-fall from the smooth-running first three quarters, started to turn the ball over, shoot bricks (4 for 19 in the fourth quarter) and lost their big lead.

The Bulls onslaught didn’t end. In the first 8:22 of the fourth quarter, they outscored the hometown team, 20-6, finally pulling into a tie at 74 with 3:38 left in the game.

Somewhere, Jim Dolan, who was not seen in his regular seat near the Knicks bench, was squirming.

In the NBA, particularly in the mediocre Eastern Conference where only two teams, the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat have records above .500, any win is, by its nature, a good win. But, if anyone believes losing a 23-point lead in the fourth quarter to a lousy, but extremely well-coached Tom Thibodeau team only to pull it out in the last two minutes is a “good” win, they’re living in a pipe dream.

Van Gundy was pulled off the ESPN broadcast of the Knicks game tonight

Van Gundy was pulled off the ESPN broadcast of the Knicks game tonight

But there was some good from the win. Anthony, who seems to have adjusted his offensive approach to include more of his teammates, had 30 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and three steals. But, it was Amar’e Stoudemire who made the tiebreaking jumper with 2:35 left and played a floor game, the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time out of “Stat.”

Stoudemire played 29 minutes and put up 14 important points while grabbing nine rebounds, providing the Knicks with a look into the past, when he was a younger, more spry, jumping jack of a forward. Stoudemire was active on both sides of the floor, diving for loose balls, blocking a shot, setting picks, and hitting a couple of jump shots from his favorite spot, on the left elbow.

“It’s great in order to be out there playing in a desperation game down the stretch,” Stoudemire said. “It feels good to be back on the court, I’d tell you that much. A lot of hard work has been put in to be in top shape.”

Woodson, who needs all the help he can get, was ecstatic about Stoudemire’s performance.

“This is the longest I have been able to play him,” Woodson said. “He has really looked good. He’s come a long way since the start of the season. His minutes are starting to grow and we are starting to benefit from that.”

So, Woodson lives to coach another day. Winning will be the only way he gets to hold onto his job, at this stage. It’s a fact of life when you work for an unpredictable owner who is prone to making shotgun, sometimes irrational decisions.

“From a mental standpoint, if this game would have got away from us, ain’t no telling what would have happened,” Carmelo Anthony said.

Actually, there is a good guess as to what would have happened, Carmelo. As we have seen, the Woodson Watch is in full steam ahead mode.

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