On the whiteboard inside the Knicks’ locker room post-game was a message scribbled in black marker: The pain you have been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming – Romans 8:18.
Unfortunately for New York, that joy seems like it just won’t allow itself to creep in to their season just yet. The Knicks dropped their eighth straight game on Sunday night – their 4-18 record now stands as the worst start through 22-games in franchise history. For some reason, the Knicks just can’t close games out at the moment.
They lost on a buzzer-beater by Kemba Walker on Friday in Charlotte after clawing their way back from 21 points down. The day before at the Garden, Anthony missed a game-tying 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds remaining against the Cavaliers in a 90-87 loss.
Sunday’s 4 point loss to the Blazers was the team’s 13th loss by 7 points or less this season alone.
“We’re not that far away,” Carmelo Anthony (23 points, 9-of-19) said. “We just got to fix a couple of things — whatever that may be. You look at our record you might say that we’re far far away. But we’re not that far away.”
“I think there’s a level of attention to detail that we’re still below in order to win these games,” coach Derek Fisher said. “I think we’re obviously doing enough to be in the game and have a chance to win.”
And yet, the Knicks are losing games that they have put themselves in place to win. Fisher believes that a distrust in the triangle offense could be hindering the team’s ability to focus in late-game situations.
“I think there still is some doubt that we can do this the way we’re working on doing it and when the pressure goes up, the stress goes up, the tendency (is) to revert to old habits and not sticking with what you’re developing now,” Fisher said.
New York missed four of its last five shots, and Anthony got cold again late in the fourth – even passing up a shot to Pablo Prigioni.
“We have to be more confident,” Anthony said. “I don’t think [confident] in the system but within ourselves as individuals and as a team.”
J.R. Smith, who had one of his better games of the season (20 points, 8-of-12), said the team’s late-game woes isn’t a case of distrusting the system, rather, it was guys “trying to make plays” happen.
“I think everybody is giving the effort and trusting as much as they can,” said Smith. “It’s just that sometimes over the course of the game you try to adlib a little bit, try to make some stuff up as you go. I don’t think it’s people fighting the system.
“I think when it’s knuckle-up time, we have to execute better and just keep getting stops. We played well in the fourth quarter. The last minute they just played better than us and they won.”
The Knicks are doing just enough to stay competitive for three-and-a-half quarters, but the losses keep on stacking up. The team has the same amount of losses as the Philadelphia 76ers, and is only a solitary game ahead of them. Astounding, especially when you consider that Philadelphia is trying their hardest to lose games.
“One play here, one play there — we’re not far away,” Anthony insists.
What they’re not far away from exactly still remains to be seen.