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Knicks 105, Magic 95

Is it weird that I'm a little angry about this one? It's not that I'm anti-winning. I think tanking for lottery position guarantees bad karma, so I'm not losing any sleep over a misstep on the quest towards the top pick. What baffles me is the abruptness of New York's rises and falls. What made the difference between last night's convincing win and the blowout loss against Detroit? How can we explain the team-wide vacillation in interest and effort that's had us checking playoff ticket prices one day and stalking Ricky Rubio the next? Is there some external factor we're missing? Is this team built to dominate certain teams and crumble to others? That's certainly true to a degree: the mediocre Sixers have crushed the Knicks four times, while the contending Hornets got swept. That can't explain away the wild highs and lows against teams like Toronto, against whom the Knicks managed to win by 30 and lose by 11 on consecutive days in February. Whatever pre-determines the Knick pulse seems to come from within.

I've chalked it up to lack of leadership in the past. If the point guard is the on-court brain of a team, then Knicks are a two-headed beast. One head is disarmingly aloof on the court, while the other is notoriously self-indulgent and overambitious. The master of the beast, meanwhile, can't seem to rouse any consistency from his ranks. I haven't given D'Antoni much grief this season, mostly because I really like him, but one must wonder how well he's reaching his team. There's no right answer. It's just not clear what makes this team tick, nor what makes them crash.

Missing the playoffs won't get me down. Knowing that the team's wavering investment between- even within- games cost them a playoff is troubling, though. Hopefully the organization has a better handle on the entity responsible for such spottiness than we do. Reflection and analysis of this season's games, as well as a close eye on Donnie Walsh's moves going forward, might help reveal the mitigating factors. Until then, I guess we can take solace in these occasional flashes of brilliance. And salivate over Ricky Rubio.

In conclusion, I should mention that Wilson Chandler's been bringing it almost every night for the last month. Just saying.