Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Knicks still struggling, even with win over Wizards

(photo courtesy of brigidpasulka.com)

After losing six games in a row, including three of four road games against Western contenders, the Knicks got the perfect remedy: a date with the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. But despite 20 turnovers from a Wizards team who still hasn't won on the road this season, the Knicks were up just 101-97 with under seven minutes to play.

Another major problem with the statement above? The Knicks allowed 97 points to the Wizards before the fourth quarter was half over. The Wizards shot 48 percent from the field and outrebounded the Knicks 47-40; partially because Washington has decent post players and partially because Landry Fields played just 19 minutes.

A win is a win and despite all the issues, it was nice to see Wilson Chandler (25 points) get his shot back on track after scoring over 20 points just once in his last nine games, following a stretch where he hit that milestone in four of six games.

Raymond Felton was also efficient (17 points on 7-of-14 shooting, 15 assists, 4 turnovers) while Amar'e Stoudemire led the way as usual with 30, and it was good to see many of New York's struggling leaders regain their swagger in what should have been a gimme game.

This was the Knicks first victory since Danilo Gallinari returned from injury (they had been 0-4), something that should have jump-started this team but instead has done nothing for them despite strong play and improved shooting from the Italian.

The Knicks will need to maintain their confidence in the upcoming week, as they play three of their next four against Miami, Atlanta and Dallas. Losing those games and beating the Pistons in between would leave New York at just 24-24, the first time they'd be at .500 or lower since late November (9-9).

Winning at least two of those games would go a long way to getting this team back on track, as they are now just 5.5 games ahead of the ninth-place Pacers in the East. This team looked assured of a playoff spot a few weeks ago but that assumption was premature; there's still a lot of season left and if Mike D'Antoni continues to run his starters into the ground they may run out of gas down the home stretch, which would be quite the epic fail.

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