With their playoff hopes fading with each loss, the Knicks took another step in the wrong direction versus the Bulls yesterday. Displaying little heart or energy, New York dropped its sixth consecutive contest, this one a 109-90 thrashing.
As recent losses to the Heat and Warriors have illustrated, the collective effort being put forth by the roster has been abysmal. I had feeling it could get ugly Sunday, especially going against a Chicago team that brings it each and every time they step out on the floor. Led by the relentless Joakim Noah, the Bulls raced out to a 16-1 lead and never looked back. The lack of work being put in by the Knicks was so glaring that analysts were quickly throwing around the word “quit” after the deficit grew to 37-16 at the end of the first quarter.
Tyson Chandler lamented the effort after the game, saying:
“They came out with more energy than we did, took advantage of us. On the defensive end, backdoor cuts that pretty much changed the game.”
I stopped counting the number of defensive breakdowns by the Bockers that led to uncontested layups by their opponents, but overall it was a game that perfectly exemplified the same problems that have been occurring since the start of the season. This year has been an unmitigated disaster in New York, and when the summer hits this franchise will be forced to analyze the wreckage on hand and decide what moves they can make in order to start fresh.
Convincing Carmelo Anthony that better days are ahead will be first on the agenda, but surrounding him with a stronger supporting cast might be an even bigger challenge. To put it mildly, the Knicks have numerous players under contract that other teams want nothing to do with for a variety of reasons, players such as Amar’e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, and Andrea Bargnani. Though relief will finally come in the summer of 2015 when STAT, Bargnani, and Chandler are all slated to come off of the books, the current state of disarray in New York under the direction of Jim Dolan leads me to believe that it will still be a challenge to persuade high-end free agents to come to the Big Apple.
With Mike Woodson on borrowed time, attracting a high-end coach would definitely be a step in the right direction. They need a Tom Thibodeau or Doc Rivers to take the reins, but coaches of that caliber are few and far between. Like the Chicago team of today, effort and intensity used to be a staple of Knicks basketball in the early 90’s. A coach that the players respect, one who demands the same type of accountability on the defensive end of the floor that Thibs does is sorely needed. Fans can take the losing if the team is giving it there all, but that rarely seems to be the case with this years squad.
Carmelo Anthony will be sitting home while his contemporaries are competing for the title this spring. I hope he took notice of the team he was playing yesterday in Chicago, for at the moment Noah and the Bulls represent everything that the Knicks are not.