Tonight's word is "Chemistry", boys and girls.
Ray Allen said it in the post game interview, "The Knicks have great one on one players".
The only problem is what happens when the shots don't fall? Melo missed his last seven shots, and Amare wasn't hitting either when crunch time came vs. the Celtics tonight. The chemistry is just not there.
The Celtics hit the Knicks for a 19 point swing to take the game, 96-86. With the Knicks up by 9 points in the final quarter, they "got stagnant" according to Amare, "got careless" according to Coach D'Antoni, and "stumblin' and bumblin", according to Knick Announcer Walt "Clyde" Frazier in those last minutes, looking completely lost and disorganized.
The first half was a thing of beauty, as the Knicks dominated their opponents, but the Celts flipped the switch on with about 6 minutes to go, and ran roughshod over the home team. The Knicks fell apart at the end of the game, and have now lost 6 of their last 7 games,...slip slidin' away with only 12 games left.
The motion offense of D'Antoni is rarely seen these days. I am used to saying "push it" to my TV as I watch the Knicks rebound, and I keep getting reminded that the Knicks don't push it up floor anymore. According to D'Antoni, the offensive plan is to move the ball around for 18 seconds and leave it up to one of the stars to shoot. Well, this plan hasn't been working very well. D'Antoni appears to have changed his whole offense to suit Carmelo, and there seems to be a disconnect there. Seems like some of the players on the team want to run, and some don't. It does feels that way, doesn't it? the chemistry is off. Seems to me that the problem is all mental...
I wrote about two weeks ago that the Knicks were in danger of missing the playoffs. Now it becomes a reality. The Knicks stand at .500 now, in 7th place and sinking. The only thing they can do is keep. Keep working hard, keep a positive attitude and keep communicating with each other.
Several readers have complained that I am too hard on Anthony. I am hard on him because he is great, and I want to see him stop taking plays off and play up to his capabilities... to hustle, like he did when he collided with Rajon Rondo at the end of the game and bloodied his left eye. To bust his balls like when he tried to block a shot in the final moments on a Celtic fast break. He came up short on that play, literally, but he hustled tonight, and I give him credit. If you get this hustle out of him every night, it will make a difference, and that's what I've been writing about from the start.
Notice how the Knicks can put together a marvelous half where they give up 37 points against a great team, and then give up 59 points in the second half. Inconsistency is the hallmark of a young team, but you'd expect more out of a team led by the great veteran point guard Chauncey Billups. He hasn't been the same since the injury against the Magic, physically and mentally, and I have a feeling that he isn't anywhere close to 100%.
I keep saying this but he has to get it together more than anyone else... take charge and become the leader that he is, or the Knicks will stumble and bumble right out of the playoff picture.