Last night was the type of game for the New York Knicks you almost want to act like didn’t happen. 63 points against a Golden State team who is abysmal on defense? That is a joke and there is no excuse for that type of effort. This team has their share of issues but that was a Charlotte Bobcats-esque performance and one that worries you about how the Knicks will carry themselves for the rest of their road trip.
Carmelo Anthony clearly isn’t 100% healthy and he said as much after the game. How much of a factor will this injury be down the stretch and will it be a crutch for any weak performances he has the rest of the way? Yet an unhealthy Anthony isn’t an excuse for lackadaisical defense and no fluidity on offense.
The James White starting experiment needed to end about a week ago. There is no reason Chris Copeland shouldn’t be taking that role and playing more than the requisite 4 minutes Mike Woodson plays his fifth starter. The Knicks need his punch on offense, particularly if Anthony is going to be struggling through an injury. At least with Copeland you know you are getting somebody who can score and will bring full effort on defense every time down the floor.
The rest of the rotation obviously needs to produce more if the Knicks want to be competitive in Denver, Portland or Los Angeles later in the week. JR Smith has to stay in control and not get ejected every fifth game, Iman Shumpert needs to keep attacking on offense and Raymond Felton has to find a measure of consistency with his jump shot.
Fortunately the Knicks caught a break with Brooklyn slipping up in Philadelphia last night, so their division lead remains at 2.5 games. However, Boston is now with 4.5 games and so is Atlanta who is currently the #7 seed. If the Knicks go into an extended slump they could rapidly tumble down the Eastern Conference standings. Keep in mind they still have a killer stretch to go through at the end of March and in the beginning of April (vs. Boston, at Miami, at Atlanta, vs. Milwaukee, at Oklahoma City).
A terrific start at 38-23 can’t be wasted with a tanking in the final 21 games. The Knicks need to gut it out to at least a 12-9 finish to hit 50 wins and hold on to their top three seed in the Conference.