Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
It was a sad display today at the Garden, as the New York Knicks were blown out of the gym by last season’s Western Conference finalist by a score of 120-89. San Antonio raced out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back, putting this game away early while the home crowd was relegated to watching the subpar effort on the floor and raining down jeers on coach Mike Woodson.
While it is surely no crime to be beaten by the Spurs, the ease in which this team dissected the Knicks has to be considered alarming. New York put up little to no fight, and San Antonio capitalized on their opponents laziness by making a ton of open shots and taking the ball to the rim at will. It looked like a CYO layup line at numerous points in the game, and outside of Metta World Peace (who brings it every night), I can’t think of another player who didn’t appear that they would’ve rather been somewhere watching the Giants game.
Woodson called out his team’s effort after the game, deeming it “unacceptable”. He was clearing disappointed, going on to say:
"“We didn’t compete tonight. That’s just unacceptable. Right from the start, we let our offense, shots that we missed, dictate how we defended on the other end.”"
The Knicks were hoping to get a spark from the returning J.R. Smith, who played in his first game of the season after serving a five-game suspension for violating the NBA’s drug policy. Not surprisingly, J.R. was rusty in his debut, going 1-for-9 from the field with four turnovers in 21 minutes. His performance was just one of many that left supporters of this team unsatisfied.
In the grand scheme of things,the larger issue at play at here is how this squad is going to compete on the interior without Tyson Chandler for the next four to six weeks. It is has been difficult to watch in the two plus games since he went down, as the Knicks are incredibly brittle inside and will struggle on the boards even against the lightweights of the Eastern Conference.
Andrea Bargnani was aggressive the other night in Charlotte, registering eight rebounds and blocking five shots, but how often can Woodson rely on getting that kind of effort? Every other game? Every third game? He needs a guy like Chandler to take a bulk of the rebounding onus off of him. Against the Spurs the seven-footer pulled down one measly rebound in 26 minutes of action, a primary reason the Knicks were outrebounded by 18. I cringe at the thought of the carnage that will ensue on the boards the next time they play Chicago, or when they run into Roy Hibbert and the Pacers.
With Amar’e Stoudemire currently struggling to regain the timing and form that once made him one of the more dynamic players in the league, the Knicks are running dangerously low on options. Kenyon Martin provided the Knicks with an enormous boost at the end of last season, and I honestly thought that he would be at least be able to help the team trudge water until Chandler returned. Unfortunately, the now 35-year old is having his minutes heavily monitored since he is still suffering from a mysterious ankle injury that first occurred last April. Martin was explosive and intimidating upon his initial arrival to Gotham, but now we are forced to play the waiting game with him as well and hope the player we saw last year returns.
It was well-known that Tyson Chandler was going to have to cover up many of the warts on this Knicks team. Without him in the fold, they have very few players willing to sacrifice and do the little things necessary to win games. I am the biggest Carmelo Anthony fan out there, but this is going to be a brutal four to six weeks unless the team’s best player starts demanding accountability on both ends of the floor from himself and from the rest of his teammates.