At least the Nets lost.
Sunday could have been the day when it all came crashing down -- the day when the Knicks' 18-5 start officially became something so insignificant as to cease to matter because they'd given up every bit of the Atlantic Division lead that it earned them.
The Knicks were overmatched in a 93-80 loss to the Clippers, leaving them just a half-game ahead of Brooklyn in the standings with the Nets playing Atlanta Sunday night to move into a tie at the top. The road trip from hell was getting worse by the second.
The worst part of all is that the losses aren't even maddening anymore. If it feels like a long time since that Knicks start and quite a while since their last win (nine days ago in actuality), but even the blowout loss to Golden State that started this trip feels like it was from a different age -- one when it was possible to be let down by a Knicks team you once thought was headed big places.
Now, though? Without Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, there was nothing to do but hope that the final score wasn't too ugly against a Clippers team that can blow out teams when they're at full strength.
And it wasn't all that ugly. There were a lot of dunks and the Knicks never actually had a chance of winning the game, but it wound up being the least embarrassing of the four losses on this trip.
That's not to say the Knicks made too strong a case for themselves, not when Chris Copeland kept finding himself doing his remarkably clueless job of defending fast breaks by floating in space waiting for some kind of deus ex machina to bail him out. J.R. Smith, the one guy who could actually keep the Knicks in a game offensively, went 4-for-20 from the floor to assure that the game wound up as an easy win for the home team.
Such things should be maddening, but, at this point, there's nothing to do but hope that Anthony and Chandler get healthy soon enough to keep the Knicks out of the eighth seed. Sunday's game (and Monday's in Utah, assuming both stars remain out) was just something to deal with on the way to hoped-for better days to come.
Until those guys are healthy, it's useless to scream from the heavens about Mike Woodson or the results because no coach could turn the group that took the court Sunday into a contender. The Knicks' plan to build around age was flawed and their early start was fueled by some fluky good shooting, but there was always talent on the floor to make you think it could work.
Everyone wants the Knicks to be winning games whenever possible. Failing that, you'd like to at least feel let down when they lose by 13 points.
That's not the case right now, which is probably why the Knicks have found themselves relying on the kindness of strangers.