Just like Charlie Brown laying flat on his back after Lucy has yanked the ball away, the Knicks found themselves flat on their collective back after stinking up a mostly empty Wachovia Center last night.
In a rare Larry Brown-esque moment, Isiah Thomas publicly chastised his team, questioning its toughness, claiming that the fans want it more than the players do. In their second game in two nights the Knicks looked lethargic after pulling out to an early lead.
Without top reserve David Lee (flu), followed by the in-game loss of Q-Rich (shoulder), Isiah had to go deep into his bench where he found a surprisingly effective Mardy Collins and the usually energetic Renaldo Balkman. The bench whittled a 20 point lead down to five with plenty of time to complete a comeback but the starters just never got a key stop (or any other kind of stop) after the opening few minutes of the game.
On one hand I am sorely disappointed with this loss as a fan. On the other I want to fight the urge to overreact after blowout wins or blowout losses. If I wanted to bend waaay over backward to give NY the benefit of the doubt I might point out that even though Philly is a dreadful team they nonetheless appear to be a difficult matchup for NY, particularly on the perimeter. But my back doesn’t bend that far backwards. Tough matchup or not, this Philly team should ever lead NY by 20+ points, not when most of NY’s top players are healthy. Yet it keeps happening. It’s maddening.
It’s yet another indicator of how dreadfully immature this team is. In teaching, a clear indicator of a student’s maturity is his or her response to a good grade on the first exam. The mature student sees an “A” as a confirmation of good habits, and recognizes that consistency is the key. The immature student believes an “A” is a license to coast for a couple weeks. He or she thinks that mastering chapters 1-3 means they already know every doggone thing. Right now, this is the Knicks. They got a B+ against Orlando, followed it up with a good first quarter in Philly, then took the rest of the night off. Sigh. When will this team learn? I hope soon. Time is running out.