The New York Knicks critical eight-game homestand did not get off to the start they were hoping for. Winning at Madison Square Garden has not been a easy thing to do for the Knickerbockers this season as they suffered a 109-95 blowout loss to Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers.
New York is now tied with the Orlando Magic with the second worst home record in the league at 7-13. After going 31-10 at home last season, the team would have to win all their remaining home games in the season just to get to 28.
“It is tough because again, my whole mind-set when I took over this team was to try to establish something at home in front of your home fans,” Mike Woodson said. “We’ve had a lot of slippage in that area and that has been frustrating. We still have seven more home games here on this stretch and we got to try to win them all, I mean, before this thing slips away.”
Carmelo Anthony had the worst 20-20 game you will see as he posted 26 points and 20 rebounds while shooting a woeful 4-23 from the field. It was just another example of the New York Knicks doing a poor job defending their homecourt as the Clippers were playing without Chris Paul. The Clippers looked lifeless in the first half shooting 33 percent from the field and 3-19 from three-point range. But the Knicks found themselves in a 50-50 tie because of the 11 turnovers they committed in the first half.
"It seems that we can't figure it out here on our home court," Anthony said. "But despite these last couple of games, I think we've got a great stretch that can work in our favor if we get some things right, adjust some things and figure it out quickly."
New York has now lost three in a row following a season best five-game winning streak. They are now back down to 10 games below .500 at 15-25.
“These last two games haven’t been played the way we’ve been playing during the five-game winning streak. So it’s a little bit of a concern for myself,” Anthony said. “I don’t want to go back to that place. I felt like we were making strides forward."
Before the game, the Knicks found out they will be without Kenyon Martin and Amar'e Stoudemire for the next two weeks because of injuries. Anthony hopes that his team does not go back to the losing ways before their recent 6-1 stretch.
“It seems like it’s always something, but we’ve got to figure it out. We’ve got guys injured, we’ve got guys hurt,” said Anthony. “I don’t want to go back to that place. I felt like we were making strides forward. Hopefully we can continue making those strides.”
The starting backcourt of Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert were horrendoues in the defeat to the Clippers. They combined for just five points, including zero points for Shumpert. Woodson hinted that he may have to make changes to the starting lineup.
"They struggled. They had a tough night," said Woodson. " Somehow either I gotta change the lineup or we just gotta get our starting five clicking. ... Ray and Iman, they can't have games like this."
Shumpert has slipped back into a slump after seemingly busting out of a season long slump during the Texas trip. But after going scoreless in 25 minutes played, Wooodson wonders if confidence is starting to become an issue with him.
“We haven’t tied his hands. I mean, he’s still playing the minutes and he’s got the freedom to play. I don’t know if he’s down on his confidence or what,” Woodson said. “But that’s something we gotta sit down and talk about here in the next couple of days, because I need Iman to not only defend, but I need him to just play all-around, like he was playing on that Texas swing.”
Shumpert played great during New York's 2-1 road trip to Texas two weeks ago. He scored the game winning basket against the Spurs on a fantastic one handed putback that gave the team it's biggest win of the season. In his first five games in the month of January, Shumpert averaged 15.8 points on 58% shooting and 60% from three-point shooting.
However, he has slumped badly in his last four games averaging five points per game on 30 percent shooting. Shumpert said confidence has nothing to do with his poor play.
“I didn’t lose any confidence,” said Shumpert. " I think the same shots are coming, you’ve just got to knock them down. Everyone will say something about confidence or something if you miss a couple shots. You’ve just got to keep shooting.”
Both teams were locked in a sloppy 50-50 tie at halftime, the Clippers ran their way to a 14-2 run to close the third quarter for a 76-67 lead, before extending their lead to as many as 19 points in the final period. The Clippers hammered Knicks on the fastbreak by outscoring them 32-4.
“It was just a situation where we kind of went away from what was working well in the first half,” Tyson Chandler said. “We struggled to score and then they start piling on punches and it seems like every shot they hit is like a five-point play because we’re really struggling to score.”
The Knicks were hoping that the return of Chandler was going to help even more after winning five straight games without theirt starting center. They had allowed only 92 points per game in the five wins without Chandler. New York has lost all three games since his return and the defense has gone back to it's poor ways.
“It’s tough but the thing is I’m never going to hang my head and I’m going to make sure nobody in this locker room does. The thing is we have to fix it, Chandler said. “We have to attack the problem head on. There’s going to be no pity parties.
“It’s about us coming together and understanding our personnel and what works best for us on the basketball court. It’s collectively from the coaches down, coaches and players. It’s all of us. Everybody in this locker room and every coach that’s signed on with the Knicks organization, all of our faults and we got to take it.”