With starting point guard Chris Duhon and sometime starter Quentin Richardson out with injuries, Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni decided to completely empty the tanks on the five guys left from his regular rotation. The performance was heroic, if not successful, as each starter logged over forty minutes in a tough debilitating road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, 124-128. The one small remaining consolation being that it was the final game before the All Star break, so at the least there will be some time to recuperate.
Recovery time is something the Knicks seem to be in sore need of right now; not only for this particular game, but to also help snap them out of their current six-game losing streak, one that encompasses all of the month of February. Suffice to say, Black History Month is kicking the Knicks booty right now.
It may seem silly to say, but consider the Knicks won six of seven games through the end of January. Then the first game in February, Kobe Bryant rolls into town and makes history by becoming the first African-American to score sixty-one points in Madison Square Garden. Coincidence, or racial conspiracy?
This was followed by another historic performance when LeBron James became the first African-American to post a fifty-point triple double (that would later be rescinded) after another African-American scored sixty in the same venue the game prior. Hooray for history! It was marketed as "Dream" week, which happens to dovetail nicely with Martin Luther King Jr. having a dream about seeing blacks and whites holding hands while cheering superstars causing nightmares for their beloved Knickerbockers.
Of course what the Knicks really need is for Coach D'Antoni to have a daydream or two about defense. This was the problem that grounded his high-scoring Phoenix teams, and it appears to be an issue that has followed him here to New York. The Knicks have improved -- mind you, they had nowhere to go but up -- but have yet to demonstrate any thread of defensive fortitude. This losing streak is the latest example: after opening the month by having Kobe and Lebron light them up, the last two Knicks games have seen the opponents score 128 and 144(!) points.
Shoot, with defense like that opponents could trot out the remains of Frederick Douglas, Malcolm X, Sojourner Truth, George Washingon Carver, and Harriet Tubman and still expect to score at least 100.
If the Knicks don't get it figured out during the cold short month of February, they might find their playoff hopes going the way of the underground railroad. Which is to say, history.