It was clear the Knicks were missing something in their loss to the Bulls on Thursday night. We're not talking about Larry Hughes, out with an injury, nor the more generally missing pieces often found on a winning team, although each of them would have helped. The thing that was missing on Thursday was a player willing to stride inside the three-point line before sending a ball toward the net.
The Knicks tried a franchise-record 47 three-pointers in the 98-89 loss, and their point total should make it clear how well they were shooting from deep. The cohesive, varied offensive attack of four straight wins was nowhere to be found as possession after possession ended with the Knicks settling for a shot, missing and failing to challenge for the rebound underneath. And through it all, the Knick most likely to change that state of affairs was anchored to the bench.
Nate Robinson's going to stay that way for a while. If he's not playing on a night when one guard is injured and the other ones can't generate an offense that doesn't include blind heaves at the basket, he's never going to play again. There are nights where that's going to hurt the Knicks, but Mike D'Antoni's clearly taking the parental role with Nate. Even if there's a night when you really want to let the kid out to do something, you have to stick with the grounding because that's the only way to be taken seriously.
Groundings end, though, and kids are given a chance to show that they've learned from their mistakes. On a night when nothing else goes right, it's worth taking a shot and seeing if Robinson can do what he does well and snatch a victory. Whatever his flaws, Robinson takes the ball to the hoop and changes the face of the offense. Perhaps the chance comes Friday night against the Clippers, but at this point no one should hold their breath.
It's not like there haven't been upsides to the benching, even in the face of a loss. For one thing, there's an article in Friday's Post with the headline "D'Antoni would play Satan, but not Nate." The genesis -- D'Antoni claiming that the decision is business, not personal -- is far less important than the fact that the planets have aligned in such a way to make that headline exist. We're better for it, even if the Knicks aren't.