The New York Knicks have traded one streak for another. After winning five straight games, the Knicks now find themselves in the midst of a three-game losing streak, with the third loss coming courtesy of a 109-95 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers. Although Friday's defeat was not as embarrassing as the one the Knicks suffered on Thursday to the Indiana Pacers, a loss in which no starter was outscored by fewer than 10 points, the latest loss is going a long way in reversing the goodwill built by the Knicks' play earlier this month built.
The turning point in the game for the Knicks, when they abandoned the path of winning in order to take a leisurely stroll on the way to defeat, came almost as soon as the second half began. Up to that point, the Knicks had played well enough on offense to make up for the trouble they were having in keeping the Clippers from scoring, providing the impetus for a 50-50 halftime tie.
In the third quarter, though, everything fell apart for the Knicks on offense, and coupled with what had already been a sieve-like defense, the Knicks really had no other option but to fall behind the pace the Clippers were setting. While the Clippers continued their consistent outscoring output, scoring 26 points in the third quarter, the Knicks were only able to muster 17 points in large part because they went an arctic 4 of 22 from the field; the Knicks did connect on 8 of their 10 free throw attempts, but those free throw makes were not nearly enough to overcome their mediocre field goal shooting.
One bad offensive quarter, even one as horrendously bad as the one the Knicks had, is not always going to be enough to doom a team's chances of winning a contest, but the Knicks compounded their sub-par third-quarter shooting with a further display of offensive ineptitude in the fourth quarter. In addition to making just nine of their 21 field goal attempts in the final period, the Knicks also turned the ball over four times as they came up empty on the majority of their offensive possessions.
Offensively, the Knicks might have improved in the fourth quarter, however, it was not nearly enough improvement to keep the game within single digits for the final 10:33 of the contest.
There are almost no positives that the Knicks can take away from Friday's result as they failed to achieve even league-average efficiency offensively or defensively, scoring just 99.2 points per 100 possessions while allowing the Clippers to scorch the nets to the tune of 113.8 points per 100 possessions. Rather, the Knicks will have to regroup and try to recapture their impressive play from earlier this month, especially on the defensive side of the ball, a task that will be more difficult since it was reported that power forwards Amar'e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin will miss extended time; the Clippers game was the start of their absence.
If the Knicks fail to reverse their current slide, it will lend credence to the idea that their early-January run had more to do with random variation than an actual improvement in the team's play.