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Knicks Find New Way to Reach Rock Bottom in Late-Game Meltdown vs. Wizards

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 16:  New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson directs his team during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden on December 16, 2013 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Wizards defeat the Knicks 102-101.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 17, 2013

At some point, a deafening thud will hit reverberate throughout the basketball world and the New York Knicks will have officially hit rock bottom.

Until that time, though, this slippery slope will continue turning the Madison Square Garden into a comedy club.

The latest laugher came on Monday in the form of New York's atrocious 102-101 loss to the Washington Wizards.

Make no mistake, the Knicks had no business being in this game. Not while losing both the shooting (.542/.611 slash for the Wizards, .418/.267 for the Knicks) and rebounding (41-35) battles by uncomfortably comfortable margins.

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 16: Trevor Booker #35 of the Washington Wizards dunks against the New York Knicks on December 16, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading a
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

Still, the contest miraculously stood right in New York's hands.

Knicks guard Beno Udrih split a pair of free throws to give the Knicks a 101-100 lead with 24.5 seconds left in regulation.

A one-point lead with that much time remaining is far from a guaranteed victory. But that wasn't the only thing in New York's arsenal.

The Knicks had a foul to give and the perfect chance to give it when Wizards guard Bradley Beal drove to the basket on the ensuing possession. But Udrih didn't use the foul, instead relying on defensive help that never came since, well, this is the Knicks defense.

"Beno opened the flood gates," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said, via NBC Sports' Brett Pollakoff. "It happened so fast. He was thinking the help was there and it wasn’t there. So he couldn’t even reach to grab the guy, to take the foul. But that’s where the breakdown occurred."

That's almost correct. Really, that was just where the first breakdown happened.

The Knicks defense parted quicker than the Red Sea, and Beal found such an easy look at the go-ahead shot, even he couldn't believe his eyes.

"They wanted me to run a pick-and-roll with [Marcin] Gortat, so my first instinct was to reject the screen and go baseline if I had it," Beal said, via NBA.com's Adam Zagoria. "There was absolutely nobody there."

No worries, though, since New York still had three timeouts to set up an attempted game-winner.

Only, no one called for even one of those timeouts. Not a timeout to advance to the ball; not a timeout to draw anything up to create a clean look at the basket.

Instead, Carmelo Anthony lumbered down the right sideline and fired off a contested three that predictably missed its mark.

Woodson put the late-game lapse on his shoulders.

"I probably should have taken for sure the timeout there at the end,” Woodson said, via Pollakoff. “Beno grabbed it and the ball was in Melo’s hands before I could even react, and I should have reacted a lot sooner once the ball went through the bucket."

This wasn't simply a plan gone awry. As ESPN New York's Ian O'Connor wrote, there wasn't even a plan in place: "In that previous huddle, Woodson never told his players to call timeout in the event of a Washington score, a fact Anthony confirmed."

Anthony didn't exactly pull his coach out from under the bus.

"If [Woodson] said it's his fault, then it's his fault," Anthony said, via Zagoria. "If he said it was his fault and he takes the blame, then he takes the blame."

But not everyone was OK with letting the coach take the fall.

"We’ve got to do a better job as players,” J.R. Smith said, via Pollakoff. “We knew we had...timeouts."

The blame game is a part of losing. And right now in New York, there's a whole lot of blame to go around for these bruised and battered Knicks (7-17).

Yet this doesn't even feel like it could be rock bottom.

Each and every day, the Knicks find a new way to lower this standard of dysfunction.

 

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