This defeat was so so overwhelming that I am not sure what clumsy analogy to open with. We could do “climate control” since Russell Westbrook (21 points and 8 assists) manipulated the tempo and temperature of the game from the start. Or we could go with “when it reigns it pours” since the combination of Kevin Durant (28 points on 10-13 shooting) and James Harden (24 points in 27 minutes on 8-12 shooting with 4 assist for good measure) ruled the court like Thunder Gods while raining points over our uncovered and unable to cover anybody Knicks. Yep, the Knicks were left wet and naked after a first half in which we surrendered 70 points.
It was so overwhelming that the OakCity Thunder sat Durant and Westbrook before the third quarter ended. They stopped playing but the beating did not stop.
This game was really ugly, but we knew it as soon as coach D’Antoni revealed a rotation we had not seen and the Knicks probably hadn’t seen in practice, yet. (Practice, practice; what practice? We’re too busy playing in this tighty scheduled season to have practice.) With Carmelo suffering from wrist and ankle injuries and Jared Jeffries ready to return, D’Antoni started with Iman Shumpert and Mike Bibby in the backcourt and Tyson Chandler, Bill Walker and Amare Stoudemire up front. Landry Fields (for Bibby), Josh Harrellson (for Stat), Jared Jeffries (for Walker) and Toney Douglas (for Iman Shumpert) came off the bench in that order in the first quarter. By the end of the quarter, the Knicks with their patchwork five were done by ten points 32-22.
Unfortunately, the Knick’s game-long defensive breakdown came shortly after D’Antoni used the Knicks 87.2 points against average in the last five games to suggest that the team’s defense has improved. (I think it has).
Despite the thunderous collapse, there were a few good signs. Josh Harrellson continues to play solidly providing a diverse game on offense. He scord 12 points off 5-10 shooting and hit 2-5 tres while grabbing 4 boards in 20 minutes. Renaldo Balkman’s play continues to urge D’Antoni to raise his profile in the rotation. Balkman has clearly worked on his game and his manic hustle is more controlled. He scored 12 points in 12 minutes and added four rebounds and 3 steals. He was clearly hustling more than everyone else in garbage time too.
Interestingly, the Knick’s bench got a technical. Apparently, Woodson forgot who the coach is and decided to become very vocal about a foul called on Stat.
The Knicks have two tough games coming up. Tomorrow Orlando (8-3) brings a three game winning streak into the Garden, where Carmelo may still be in street clothes during the game. Two days later, the Knicks aill face a reeling but always dangerous (4-7) Sun’s squad. So as bad as last night’s game was, it is possible that we have not hit our nadir yet, but if our heroes continually work hard, we could get through this stretch as a better team.