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Sixers 106, Knicks 94: "At least it is a nice day out."


I was at today's game and the bm01bath comment quoted above was the exact thing I said to my girlfriend (who attended her first ever Knicks game today. Thanks, Knicks.) as we exited Madison Square Garden. I spent the rest of the day far, far away from the Garden, just trying to put the game out of my head.

Many hours later, I don't feel that mad or anything-- just unusually detached. That was really the tone of the whole experience. The Knicks weren't The Knicks. They were just some Knicks: a bunch of guys wearing the same sleeveless pajamas, jogging around with no apparent goal in mind. Instead of cogs in a machine, those guys looked like an array of spare parts, each whirring along independently and taking turns to fire. And each part was good enough to have its moments: Carmelo Anthony started hot and worked his way to some impressive baskets. Amar'e Stoudemire made some patient, graceful drives to the basket. Tyson Chandler smothered the occasional driving Sixer. Even Jeremy Lin, who played an especially dull, ineffective game, had his moments. They each had those moments in isolation, but not one of them held for the duration and none looked capable of carrying the rest of the scrap heap, nor engaging it into a coherent whole. That, of course, extends to Mike D'Antoni, who still couldn't find a way to convince this group to give a shit. He tinkered with lineups and even benched Melo and Amar'e through the fourth quarter, but none of it made even a shade of a difference. Each Knick gave his own occasional shit, but it never felt like they gave the same shit collectively. That lack of collective shit-giving came to a head in the littlest of moments-- when a loose ball was up for grabs, or a Sixer got loose with the ball, or the momentum began to swing one way or the other. When it took some sort of collaborative/Ubuntu/1+1=3 stuff to finish a play, no such help arrived, and the Knicks seemed to get doubly punished for it. Even when they DID have the Sixers cornered into a low-percentage play, the narrow odds favored Philly.

So, the coach was detached from his team, the team was detached from the group task at hand, and it only makes sense that the crowd was totally detached from the game in front of them. They booed and stuff (I say "they" because I just can't bring myself to boo.), but it didn't even feel like the usual venomous Garden booing. Everybody was just bored and disappointed to be penned up indoors with such a sorry spectacle when the sun was shining outside. Lots of muttering. Even the "Fire D'Antoni" chant that bubbled up in the late fourth quarter-- I actually got to watch it sprout and spread-- was sort of weak. Credit the Garden crowd with managing to fit an awkwardly syllabled name into that signature cadence, though.

On that note, I still do not and will not count myself among those who want any part of this team excised. Not right now. We put up with so much to get to this point that, goddammit, they're just going to have to go out there and keep messing up and sit in that locker room stewing in each other's stench until they find a way to turn it around. Running any one of these guys out of town would (will?) be so very us, but it would feel to me like taking the easy way. Part of that is my starry-eyed insistence that time builds chemistry. Part of it is an increasingly surly sentiment that I can never escape this team, so why should any of them get to bail? None of this is reasonable, but it's what's in my head.

The funny thing is that there's enough time left in the year for us to fall back in and out of love with this team. Maybe they'll never shake off this stink, but for all our talk about bad fits, bad chemistry, bad luck, bad coaching-- whatever your particular thing is-- things might very well just turn on a dime without any real explanation. And then they could turn right back. These are the Knicks after all.

Anyway, today was a nice little food chain of detachment, and it led right up to me-- a person who can't help but care deeply about all this nonsense-- trying very hard to just distance myself from the whole thing. I didn't even sample the new Garden concessions. I just ate a hot dog at halftime. The plight of the Knicks threw me-- ME-- off my snack game. It was just a lame experience from the court on up, and something I very badly wanted to escape when I left the building and have tried to forget until right now. At least it was a really nice day!