You know that a game has not gone your way when injuries that knock your two All-Stars out of the game before its conclusion have nothing to do with the fact that you lost by 23 points.
The 117-94 pasting handed to the Knicks by the Nuggets on Wednesday night is the second straight blowout loss on this five-game western swing and the big stories coming out of the contest will be the injuries. Carmelo Anthony escaped the boos and taunts in his return to Denver with a third quarter exit to go have his troublesome knee drained back in New York and Tyson Chandler did the same after suffering what the team's calling a contusion to his left knee.
We put the caveat about the team's opinion in there since Anthony's play the last two games raised further questions about the decision-making ability of the Knicks when it comes to medical matters. Anthony could barely move on Wednesday night and it was clear that he should have been getting drained or otherwise rehabilitated instead of taking on the Nuggets.
So the fact that the Knicks say that Chandler's probable for Thursday night in Portland (even as Chandler says he's taking a wait-and-see approach) means very little. And, frankly, if Chandler does play we aren't sure it will wind up making any difference.
The Knicks might have made a better go of it in the event they were fully healthy, but the Nuggets would still have outworked, outhustled and altogether outplayed the Knicks. They were getting easy baskets by beating the Knicks downcourt and then scoring again off copious offensive rebounds during a 21-1 second quarter run that put the game away.
Mike Woodson can only take so much blame for his players playing without energy, but the team's total rudderlessness over the last two games does fall directly on his shoulders. He's playing without a full deck and has to constantly find lineups that hide that fact, but the truth is that these problems have been the same since that glorious start came crashing to an end.
For a long time, the Knicks were able to argue that they were treading water. Now, though, they've sunk behind the Pacers and it's pretty hard to believe that their immediate Melo, Amar'e and maybe Chandler-less future is going to wind up keeping them in front of the Nets unless the Nets go into another one of their own funks.
To their credit, the Knicks players realized that this game was lost long before the injuries. They say that the first step to fixing your problems is admitting them, so that's better than burying your head in the sand about the reason for defeat.
The problem is that the second step has never been so clearly defined and the Knicks look like they're about to take their next one right off a cliff.