The Knicks were thoroughly beaten despite the final score by the Chicago Bulls a few nights ago for the second time this season. Of the Knicks seven losses this season, you can argue that four have come at the hands of teams that play a very physical style of play.
The first sign that a physical team could be the Knicks’ kryptonite was the 105-95 loss at Memphis, when Carmelo at the four was brutalized by the combo of Zack Randolph and Marc Gasol. At the time the Knicks were still undefeated so the loss was looked at as no big deal. The Knicks had beaten the Spurs so a road loss to a very tough Grizzlies team was quickly dismissed, but skeptical fans took mental notes of what seemed like a Knick semi melt down after physically being out muscled, out hustled, out rebounded, and basically outclassed.
An upset beat down from the Rockets and a revenge loss to the Mavericks aside, the Knicks pretty much rebounded from the Grizzlies loss as they prepared to face their inner city rival and another physical team in the Brooklyn Nets. Although the Knicks would come up short in a very exciting game, they responded well to the physical play of the Nets, resulting in quieting down the few critics that believed this Knicks team could be pushed around a bit. In this highly contested game, the Knicks kept their poise and lost not because they mentally unraveled like against Memphis, but without Jason Kidd, the Nets were slightly better on that night.
So when the Knicks traveled up to Chicago after their upset win over the Miami Heat, minus Carmelo Anthony, the concern was no longer how the Knicks responded to physically play, but can the they continue to win shooting three’s at such a high rate? Because the Knicks played so valiantly against the Bulls without Carmelo Anthony, the 93-85 loss was kind of dismissed similarly to the loss to the Grizzlies as its just one loss.
But these games are not just one loss! The Bulls, like the Grizzlies did earlier, might have exposed a weakness. So far this season the Knicks have shot teams out of the gym with 3-pointers and crisp ball movement. The two teams that completely took that away from the Knicks are 3-0 against them this season. The Bulls and Grizzlies have executed defensive game plans that not only made it hard for the Knicks to execute their offense but were also physically stifling, it resulted in the Knicks imploding, arguing with referees, being hit with technical fouls and worst of all, ejections. The sight of Head Coach Mike Woodson and team captains Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler all being ejected, in hindsight this could be the defining moment of the season when we all realized this Knicks team is good but just not as good as we all hope.
I recently had a good laugh at the expense of Craig Carton of WFAN’s Boomer & Carton Show when he argued this Knicks team would beat the 90’s Knicks’ teams of Ewing, Starks, Mason and Oakley. If the performances against Memphis and Chicago is any indication that game wouldn’t even be close. The Knicks might be a little too soft!
Charles R. Trimble III @ TrimsFCN – Knickswag Contributor
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