Another Ugly Night at the Garden

The Knicks lose fourth straight in grim fashion

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Sad faces for sad times at the Garden.

    At this point, the only reason to watch the Knicks is to see exactly how they are going to lose.

    Will it be Carmelo Anthony forcing way too many shots with a bum wrist or Amar'e Stoudemire driving under the basket repeatedly with no place to go and no option other than throwing the ball off his defender in hopes that it goes out of bounds? 

    Will they outrebound the Suns all night before failing to grab a defensive rebound TWICE while down three in the final minutes or will they switch on defense so often that you forget whether you're watching a basketball game or a swing party from the 1970s?

    On Wednesday night against the Suns, the Knicks did all of those things and more on their way to a 91-88 loss that stretched their losing streak to four and the patience of the masses to its thinnest point yet.

    There were some scattered chants for Mike Woodson near the end of the game, presumably because fans would like to see Mike D'Antoni replaced as coach with the mastermind of the switch-happy defense.

    While the Knicks have been better overall defensively, the switching is responsible for creating enough open shots for the defense that a loss is almost guaranteed.

    There were several moments last night when Tyson Chandler found himself on Steve Nash while Robin Lopez backed down a point guard in the lane.

    The Knicks were saved a blowout loss because Lopez is a fairly awful basketball player and because the non-Nash Suns are generally a poor team, but it's an ineffective strategy that needs to go away sooner rather than later. But the defense remains an unending joy compared to the offense.

    Anthony has now missed 35 of his last 49 shots and he's clearly dealing with an injury that is keeping him from making even easy layups with any consistency.

    You applaud the toughness, especially when it manifests itself with 11 rebounds, but you have to wonder if Anthony maybe shouldn't alter his game a bit to cover for his obvious shortcomings.

    But where would the Knicks go for points without Anthony? Stoudemire has three or four moments each night when he hits a few shots and you think that he's about to start rolling, but then he goes back to wild drives into the defense and the ball goes the other way for an easy opposition basket.

    Stoudemire's problem might be that he expects people to defend him the way he defends others. Stoudemire would gladly step out of the way of a player making a move down by the baseline, but most NBA players see defending such plays as part of their responsibility to their teammates.

    Landry Fields and Iman Shumpert had some nice moments in the second half, but they really only served to extend the pain as far as possible. At the time it seemed exciting, but a little distance leave Fields missing wide-open threes and Shumpert throwing passes to fans as the lasting images of their nights.

    And, on top of all the rest, the Knicks missed 10 free throws on Wednesday night. It feels like giving the Knicks a birthday cake would turn into a five-alarm fire when they try to blow out the candles with a spray bottle of kerosene.

    Losing to the Magic was one thing. Losing to the Suns, a bad team on the second night of a back-to-back that's outrebounded by 16, is something else entirely.

    It's a sign of just how rotten things have gotten at the Garden and a glimpse into how bad they might get if they don't figure something out pretty quick.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.