Cloudy with an incalculable chance of shameful losing.
Braving the weather conditions in the New York Knicks' locker room is impossible these days. They've been so uncontrollably bad and unpredictably inconsistent that it's humiliating.
It's never the same story, either. Sometimes they fight, before finding ways to lose. Other times, they embarrass themselves from the beginning, overcome by apathy and incompetence. Against the Boston Celtics, the Knicks were simply awful, falling by 41 points on their home floor, the third-most lopsided home loss in franchise history.
In losing to the Celtics, the still Rajon Rondo-less Celtics, New York hit new lows of despicable. At 5-14, the Knicks have the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference and continue to inhabit dead last in the Atlantic Division.
Less than 20 games into their season, it's foolish to sound a campaign-long alarm. Turning their year around is not out of the question. After all, before this massacre, they were working off consecutive 30-point victories.
Need for change has hit an all-time high, though. Maintaining the status quo ensures the Knicks remain nothing more than a potential playoff team and blubbering disaster fused into one.
Gross. No other word paints an adequate picture of New York's effort against the Celtics.
Boston led by as many as 45 points in a game that was won in the first quarter. The Celtics took a 23-point advantage into the second and 27-point lead into the half. And a 36-point edge into the fourth. They just kept building...as the Knicks continued flailing.
Not one of New York's starters posted better than a minus-29. Carmelo Anthony, on the heels of a 5-of-15 shooting display, registered a game-worst minus-40, prompting talk of in-game butt kickings:
That's exactly what this was—an ass whoopin'. And more. So much more.
The Knicks trailed by double digits for 45 of the 48 minutes played, or 93.8 percent of the game—against a Celtics team that ranked 24th in offensive efficiency before then. Are they kidding?
They dropped 73 points on 72 field-goal attempts—a performance worthy of Rudy Gay—while the Celtics exploded for 114 on 73 shots. Is that for real?
Four different Celtics scored at least 16 points, when only one player (Jeff Green) was averaging as much per game coming in. Really now?
Some defense; some offense.
Straying From Success
Then, this—a letdown of epic proportions.
"It's a step backwards," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said after the game, per the Associated Press (via ESPN). "I thought we had turned the corner somewhat. I can't have our guys stepping on the floor doing what they did tonight."
No, he can't. The team he needed to show up slept in. Or was still out gallivanting from the night before. Whichever excuse you prefer, really—it doesn't matter.
Successful play styles were revealed in the previous two victories. Move the ball, shoot the three, make the three, and defend in spurts. That was it. Simple to understand and easy to follow.
Against Boston, the Knicks revolted in the worst way possible. After dishing out at least 24 assists in each of their last two games—both of which were wins—the Knicks went for 13 against the Celtics. Disgusting.
There's a clear correlation between how they move the ball and the number of baskets they score. In Brooklyn, 24 assists got them 44 made buckets. On Saturday, 25 dimes helped them to 44 as well. At Madison Square Garden on Sunday, 13 assists earned them barely half as many baskets (25). Disgusting again.
Isolations flooded New York's offensive sets. Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert put their heads down. Only STAT found success, going for 17 meaningless points on 5-of-7 shooting. Only when Pablo Prigioni (four assists) was on the floor did the ball move at all.
Threes weren't made, or even shot frequently enough, as a result. Lack of ball movement rarely opens up opportunities from long range. It culminates in contested mid-range jumpers and wild shots around the rim. That's exactly what we saw from the Knicks in their loss to Boston.
New York attempted just 16 treys after jacking up 27 versus Brooklyn and 34 against Orlando. Credit Boston's still-disciplined defense, but the Knicks didn't make hard on the Celtics. The Knicks rolled over instead, abandoning a successful blueprint in favor of one that's benefited their opponents all season.
Wonder why they lost so badly no more.
Running Out of Time
We know more about the Knicks than you think. Sort of.
Nineteen games aren't enough to coin them the second-worst team in the East. Or conclude that they'll fail to make the playoffs. It's not even enough to guarantee they won't win the Atlantic Division. But we're getting there.
All year, the Knicks have been inconsistent. Maddeningly turbulent. Imbalanced displays are the only thing you can count on.
There's no wrapping your head around these Knicks, who are no longer battling a nine-game losing streak, but combating a system that yielded two straight victories. Two much-needed, hopefully revealing victories.
But as opposed to frolicking in the residual hype of a third consecutive win, they're lamenting another self-inflicted defeat. Hanging their head in search of answers. Splashing around in failure, worst home record in the NBA in hand (tied with Milwaukee Bucks).
"It's just one of those games where it happens," Raymond Felton (scoreless) said, per the AP. "You hate that it happens, you hate to get beat like that inside your building. It was nasty game, it's a bad taste in our mouth right now."
Bad tastes like these will become all-too-familiar flavors if the Knicks' propensity for reinventing compunction doesn't submit to their elusive winning ways.
*All stats used in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference and NBA.com (subscription required) and are accurate as of Dec. 7, 2013 unless otherwise noted.
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