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Blog: By George
Heading into the fourth quarter of yesterday’s game at the Garden, the Jumbotron that hangs over the court flashed images of various Knicks and celebrities pleading with the crowd “to make some noise.” By the end of the game the noise heard was an assortment of boos and, coming from the rafters, some chants of “Fire D’Antoni.” The disenchantment was well-deserved.
The Knicks are lost, lost as much as Gilligan and The Skipper were on the island with little hope of being rescued. Yesterday’s 106-94 loss to the Sixers was the kind of eyesore that makes you think it’s never going to get any better.
Despite playing at home for the first time since an 0-4 road trip, the Knicks looked lethargic and detached. The most troubling sign is everyone from head coach Mike D’Antoni on down has no solution for how to end a five-game losing streak that has turned the Knicks into zombies in sneakers.
The worst thing you can say about a team is it has no heart, but that’s basically what D’Antoni said about his Knicks after they were outscored 38-24 in the third quarter and trailed by as many as 21 points in the fourth. When asked if it was the offense or defense that troubled him more, D’Antoni said it was the team’s “spirit” he questioned.
“We hit a snag and we seem to wither,” the exasperated coach said. “For some reason, we haven’t overcome any kind of obstacles.”
He talked about fighting hard and playing with more of a sense of urgency, but that’s nothing the Knicks haven’t heard before.
“It just doesn’t resonate all the time,” D’Antoni said.
Therein lies the problem.
It’s clear D’Antoni is in danger of losing this team — if he hasn’t already. The body language on the court and in the locker room is that of a team without an identity or direction. Anything associated with “Linsanity” should be considered memorabilia. The Knicks looked so bad yesterday they might as well drop the “L.”
D’Antoni all but gave up on his team in the fourth quarter yesterday, pulling Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire and finishing the game with J.R. Smith, Steve Novak, Tyson Chandler, Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields. D’Antoni insisted he wasn’t trying to send a message to his stars.
“It didn’t feel like it was fair to take them out and try something else,” he said of sticking with Smith and Novak.
Stoudemire and Anthony tried to be good soldiers about being benched, guessing D’Antoni was trying to save them for tonight’s game against the Bulls at Chicago. But the expression on Stoudemire’s face was one of frustration.
“Right now we’re not having fun,” he said. “We’re just going through the motions.”
Observations from his teammates weren’t any more encouraging.
“I’m disappointed with our effort,” Chandler said. “That’s one thing you can control.”
Baron Davis added, “A lot of times we’re playing on our heels. We’re trying to figure things out instead of forcing our will on the game.”
And the obvious from Iman Shumpert: “Sometimes we play with energy and sometimes we don’t. When we put 48 minutes together, we’ll be good. But until we do we’ll be an up and down team.”
D’Antoni knows he needs to fix this mess or the Knicks will get someone who can. The season and a playoff spot are quickly slipping away. If this week’s games against the Bulls, the Blazers and the Pacers don’t produce any encouraging results then a change will need to be made to salvage the season. Right now, D’Antoni seems clueless.
“Collectively, we just didn’t play well,” he said. “Collectively, our spirit’s not good and collectively our defense is not very good at all. Collectively, we just didn’t do what we’re supposed to do. We’ve got to solve that somehow.”
If not, the noise for his firing is only going to get louder.
Knicks, Knicks, DвЂ™Antoni, Mike DвЂ™Antoni