Based on the performance of the New York Knicks in their first game after the conclusion of the All-Star Break, the team spent no time during the five days in between games addressing, or even thinking about, their fourth quarter failures. Instead, the 98-93 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies suffered by the Knicks in Tuesday night's contest demonstrate that the Knicks are so comfortable with their losing formula that they have elected to wrap themselves up in it for the foreseeable future. Like a well-worn blanket that might appear ratty and torn to another, but is just perfect to the owner of the blanket, the Knicks have obviously begun to treasure the way they lose games.
During the first half of Tuesday's contest, it looked as if the Knicks were not even going to wait to squander the game in the fourth quarter, but were going to go ahead and get the losing process out of the way so they could relax and fully enjoy the defeat for the rest of the game. After two quarters of play, the Knicks found themselves in a 13-point hole as they had managed to score just 37 points over the first 24 minutes of game time.
However, the Knicks rallied in the third quarter to start the process of making their loss as compelling as possible, outscoring the Grizzlies by 11 points in that quarter on the strength of some improbably good defensive prowess; during the third period, the Knicks held the Grizzlies to 7-of-21 shooting from the field. Meanwhile, the Knicks offense woke up and converted on 11 of their 20 field goal attempts during the quarter, including two three-pointers.
The rally continued well into the fourth quarter and transformed into an actual fourth-quarter lead for the Knicks; with 2:39 left in the game, Carmelo Anthony made both of his free throw attempts to give the Knicks a five-point lead.
Of course, no fourth-quarter lead is safe with the defensively deficient Knicks so it was only a matter of time before the Knicks did their best matador performance and moved out of position enough to give the Grizzlies a free lane to make baskets. Between Anthony's two free throw makes and the conclusion of the contest, the Grizzlies had six offensive possessions. They scored on each one of them, going on a 13-5 run to close out the victory; Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, Jr. accounted for six of the 13 points. When the Knicks needed stops to secure a victory, they came up short as is their wont.
At least the beginning of the ceremonial second-half of the NBA season will not force followers of the New York Knicks to expend too much mental energy in adjusting our conceptions of the team. The result of their tilt with the Memphis Grizzlies is incredibly reassuring since it indicates the Knicks know what people expect of them and are committed to playing to those expectations, no matter how lowly the expectations might be.