Health, But No Happiness For Knicks

Knicks lose second straight at home with terrible defensive effort

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Stoudemire shows off his unique approach to defending air instead of the ball.

    It seemed like a nightmare that Time Warner customers lost MSG on Jan. 1 thanks to being the grass under two elephants fighting, but it is rapidly looking like the corporate slapfight might be a blessing in disguise.

    Not having MSG means that you didn't see the team stumble offensively in Monday night's loss to the Raptors and it meant that you didn't see Wednesday night's 118-110 loss to the Bobcats. And missing Wednesday night meant missing a night sure to frustrate you to your very core. 

    The Knicks let one of the league's least efficient offensive teams shoot 55 percent from the field, rack up 27 assists and hit seven threes that were there for the taking thanks to a defensive performance that bordered on the absurd.

    Time after time, the Bobcats found themselves with clear looks at the hoop while the Knicks seemed to be acting out what a blind basketball team might look like while sharing the court with an NBA team.

    There were two major reasons for the difficulties on defense. The first was that the Knicks simply didn't try very hard in the first half of the game.

    Most possessions ended with some member of the Knicks standing and watching a Charlotte player convert an easy basket instead of actually contesting it.

    Boris Diaw, who looks like the winner of a pie-eating contest and usually shoots as a last resort, looked like Bobcats owner Michael Jordan and someone named Byron Mullins was stroking jumpers without so much as a stiff breeze in his face.

    The major culprit in both cases was Amar'e Stoudemire, who might want to get his goggles checked at the closest optometrist because it looked like he was guarding invisible offensive players on most trips down the court.

    The Bobcats did shoot well when the Knicks finally showed some defensive effort down the stretch, but for the majority of the evening the story was about pathetic effort. 

    Reason number two for the defensive issues is schematic. The Knicks continue to switch on every single screen instead of fighting through them, which leaves them scrambling around to wind up in mismatches instead of taking advantage of the fact that they signed Tyson Chandler.

    Why the team would choose a defensive system based on communication when they have had no time to develop cohesion is a mystery only Mike D'Antoni can answer, but it clearly isn't working. That doesn't make it unique among Knicks things right now, but it is one of the easier ones to fix.

    The best scheme in the world isn't going to help if the Knicks refuse to make the effort, though, and they refused to make the effort on Wednesday night.

    Some players did show up -- Iman Shumpert's return to the lineup confirmed the positives we saw on Christmas Day -- but most did as little as possible until a half-hearted fourth quarter run.

    Chemistry problems were expected and can be rationalized away as something that will get better with time. Games like this one have nothing to do with that, though, because the Bobcats are a bad team that could be and should be beaten just by showing up to work.

    The Knicks couldn't even manage that.

    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.