After a brief two game winning streak, there was a perception that the Knicks had turned the corner of their season following consecutive 30-point victories. That perception was quickly squashed yesterday afternoon as New York came crashing back down to earth.
The team was simply terrible as they endured the third worst home loss in franchise history, a 114-73 destruction at the hands of the Boston Celtics. It maybe the most puzzling game of the Mike Woodson era when you consider the circumstances. New York had looked good in their two wins thanks to the new "team" ball approach from Carmelo Anthony. But when it time to take the court against the Rajon Rondo-less Celtics, the Knickerbockers were not ready to play.
"It's a step backwards," Woodson said. "I thought we had turned the corner somewhat. I can't have our guys stepping on the floor doing what they did tonight."
Boston led by as many as 45 points in a game that was over minutes into the game. They took a 23-point advantage into the second and 27-point lead into the half. And a 36-point edge into the fourth. They just kept building up the lead while the Knicks were figuring out a way out of the Garden.
“I wish I could explain it. I didn’t see this coming in terms of how we played,” said Woodson. "I’m not happy about how we played. Nobody in that locker room, our fans, nobody should be happy about watching something like this tonight.”
The team ball approach lasted only two games as they went back to their offensively stagnant ways. Before you could blink, the Celtics had already raced out to a 12-0 lead. It went up to 20-1 at one point before the Knicks made their first goal with 5:43 left in first quarter.
Anthony was back to playing isolation basketball while everyone just stood around and watched. As a result, the three point shot was not a factor as the team made only six on only 16 attempts. It comes to no suprise that the Knicks were lethal from 3-point range in their two wins hitting 31-61 from beyond the arc. But the lack of ball movement rarely opens up opportunities from long range and usually ends up in contested and off balance jumpers. Anthony just wants to call it a good old fashioned butt kicking.
“Right now there’s just no need for me to try to pinpoint what happened, what went wrong out there. Good old fashioned ass-whupping to me,” Anthony said after scoring 19 points on 5-for-15 shooting in the loss.
“What Boston came here and did, it was an embarrassment. To lose like that on our homecourt, I think everybody should be pissed off. But we move on. Got Cleveland coming up."
The starting backcourt of Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton shot a combined 0-12 from the field and scored zero points. All five Boston starters were in double figures as they led the way to the most lopsided game of the NBA season so far. This is a Celtics team that was supposed to be rebuilding for the future and playing for the lottery. Instead it looked like the Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen Celtics who were routinely giving the Knickerbockers a beatdown.
“I don’t want to try to pinpoint it, what happened, whether it was a 12 o’clock game or whatever it was. I don’t think we (were) ready today and it showed,” said Anthony. “I know Coach, I know what type of guy he is, so he’s always going to put it on him, but you can’t teach effort.
“We’re the guys that are going out there as a team and not giving him the effort and not giving ourselves the effort, not giving ourselves a chance to win the basketball game. So as much as he wants to put it on himself, it’s no need for that.”
The Knicks are 2-8 at home this season. Last year, New York didn't lose its 8th home game on February 13th, at which point they were 32-18. Despite being 5-14, the Knickerbockers are only 3.5 games behind the Celtics for first place in the division.
“Like I mentioned three weeks ago, nobody is running away with this division,” Woodson said. “We still got an opportunity to move up and win the Atlantic. It’s still wide open, I think. I just got to get our players believing and playing at a high level.”