Can the Knicks Stop Their Slide?

One of the more infamous moments in Knicks history was when James Dolan, citing "significant and evident progress," gave Isiah Thomas a contract extension in 2007. The Knicks had a 29-34 record and were sitting in the Eastern Conference's last playoff spot at the time, so there was some justification for the move. The justification went out the window almost immediately afterward. Players started getting hurt, Thomas's coaching couldn't cope and the Knicks closed with a 4-15 run that left them out of the playoffs.
There was a bit of deja vu in the air over the last two weeks. The Knicks moved into the eighth spot in the East with a win over Atlanta and then pasted Indiana to bring them within four games of .500. And then the wheels fell right off the bus. Three losses at the Garden, featuring Kobe and LeBron playing "can you top this," and a humiliating three-game road trip that leaves them a season-worst 10 games under .500.

And the injuries are there too. Chris Duhon, Quentin Richardson and Tim Thomas all went down on the West Coast, leaving an already undermanned team to play the likes of Malik Rose against the Clippers. They played hard, and would have beaten the Clippers if Al Harrington wasn't a grade-A buffoon, but at the end of the day the team's problems are getting worse.

They are overreliant on Harrington and Nate Robinson for points, especially down the stretch, and their selfish leanings and streakiness can lead to long dry spells. Even when Robinson is distributing the ball, as he did against the Clips, the offensive pace has kicked up to lightspeed and shots are flying moments after the ball crosses half-court. Since their defensive philosophy is to ignore playing defense, that gives teams way too many chances to score and run up huge numbers.

The schedule for the rest of the month is favorable, so if the team can regroup over the All-Star break, all may not be lost. It's hard to see who is going to lead them back at this point, though, and one serious injury could send the team into a 2007-esque tailspin that leaves them in the lottery once more.  

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