This is turning into the worst possible sequel to "Groundhog Day."
Plenty of things were going well for the Knicks on Wednesday night. Carmelo Anthony was taking smart shots and facilitating easy looks for his teammates. Chauncey Billups looked like the player he was when he first got to New York. The team was playing decent defense against a strong opponent. There was a sizable lead in the third quarter in front of a supportive Garden crowd.
And, once again, it all fell apart in a horrendous fourth quarter. The Knicks stopped playing defense, stopped moving the ball on offense and watched the Magic thunder off with a 111-99 victory. The loss was the fourth straight for the Knicks, their seventh in the last eight games and it left them with a sub-.500 record for the first time since November.
The Knicks don't seem overly concerned. Anthony and Billups both said the team just needs to calm down and start having some fun to get things back on track. Amar'e Stoudemire, who had an awful game on Wednesday, admitted to being tired and Mike D'Antoni said that a brutal March schedule is to blame for the extended losing jag.
Are these all plausible explanations for what's ailing the Knicks? Sure, as is the overriding theme of it taking time for a team to gel when it completely reinvents itself after the middle of the season. But it might be time for a little bit more brutal honesty from someone associated with the team.
Someone needs to stand up and say that Landry Fields looks nothing like the folk hero he was during the first half. Stopping this kind of bleeding is a lot to ask of a rookie, but Fields is too prominent a player on this team to be as invisible as he's been during this losing streak.
Someone needs to explain why D'Antoni still seems aghast at the thought of playing Anthony and Stoudemire together for long stretches of the game. When the Magic made their decisive run at the start of the fourth quarter, Anthony was sitting on the bench watching his teammates stumble their way around on offense.
Someone should simply say that this Knicks team, as currently constructed, has fatal and unforgivable flaws when it comes to defense and rebounding. They don't have enough size inside nor do they have perimeter defenders able to cover up for those shortcomings. The Knicks can overcome those issues, but it takes more than just being loose to get the job done.
Honesty alone won't get the Knicks back above .500. It can't hurt to give it a shot, though, because nothing else is working.