The Knicks' California Trip Isn't Going Well

Another blowout loss and an Amar'e Stoudemire injury to boot

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Kobe's jokes stopped being funny sometime around the second quarter.

    Watching the Knicks lose to the Lakers Thursday night left you feeling like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin.

    Instead of reacting to mounting negative evidence by reassuring yourself that the Great Pumpkin was coming, the mantra of "It's still early, things will get better" offered no consolation when Laker after Laker hit easy layups. All of those layups -- and the total absence of them on the other side -- led to a 99-82 Knicks loss, their second straight lopsided defeat in the Pacific Time Zone.

    After the game, Mike D'Antoni called them awful. It was the same word that he used to describe the team after Wednesday night's loss to the Warriors which might make D'Antoni a lazy wordsmith, but you have to give him credit for hitting the nail on the head two nights in a row.

    Nothing was harder to watch than a Knicks offense that continues to be a running commentary on Toney Douglas' inability to run a NBA offense. There is zero ball movement, zero recognition of moments when Tyson Chandler is rolling to the hoop for an open look and zero cohesiveness to the team with Douglas at point guard.

    That leads to a lot of contested shots and a lot of players like Amar'e Stoudemire trying to create something out of nothing. On Thursday night, that meant the non-Carmelo Anthony Knicks shot 13-of-53 from the floor and 4-of-18 from three.

    Scary numbers that aren't made the least bit better by the fact that Anthony played fairly well in spite of getting absolutely no support from his teammates. He finished with five assists also, but the team isn't going to thrive if they keep asking him to be both the team's leading scorer and facilitator.

    Stoudemire has been the most damaged by the fact that the Knicks are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole at point guard, as every shot he takes is either a head-down foray to the hoop in traffic or an attempted jumper over a defender that's right up in his face. It's not working and, thanks to a turned ankle, we might not see Stoudemire try to turn things around against the Kings on Saturday.

    As for defense, the Knicks let the Lakers hit 71 percent of their shots in the first half. Discuss more if you like, but that number pretty well suffices.

    So what have we learned from these two hideous nights of basketball? We've learned that the Knicks should probably stifle championship talk for a while since it looks like they'd struggle to win the PSAL let alone the Atlantic Division.

    But we shouldn't be all that surprised. Christmas Day was a blast, but teams with a lot of new pieces, serious injury issues and no training camp don't tend to break out of the gate like a fully formed Voltron ready to devour the competition.

    The Knicks started 3-8 last year and struggled again right after the Anthony trade before finding their footing. So keep saying that mantra from up above and keeping the faith that you had in the Knicks five days ago.

    Just because the Great Pumpkin never showed doesn't mean that things aren't going to work out in real life.

    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.