I was going to wait until morning to recap this game, but I want this poison out of me so I can move on to pretending it never happened. This won't be long anyway. So. It's amazing-- and partly the product of some neat scheduling-- how rapidly the Knicks went from "hey, this could be turning around!" to "okay, maybe only against bad teams" to "NOPE NEVER MIND ALL THAT THIS IS THE MOST DESPICABLE GROUP OF HUMAN BEINGS EVER TO CONVENE" in a matter of days. And...wait, I'm not alone here, right? Was the key change not that dramatic? I saw the Knicks go on that win streak and felt pretty okay about their prospects. I saw them lose to the Heat and adjusted expectations, but I was heartened to see them compete. I saw what they did Monday night in Milwaukee and all the positivity just drained out of me like someone had pulled a cork.
The Knicks get no benefit of the doubt, not even for one game. They just lost to the NBA's worst team down a couple rotation players. I want everyone fired and/or traded including myself. Every member of the Knicks organization and you and I should be separated and exiled individually to however many nations however far apart it takes to ensure we never cross paths ever again. We should each be given new identities. I will be Raul H. Javivivivij. Tyson Chandler will be Dr. Plorvis Shreenly. Carmelo Anthony will be Ho-pid Wee. Raymond Felton will be Snarfolomew Porridge. J.R. Smith will be BBQ O'Jizz. Mike Woodson will be imprisoned. Iman Shumpert will be Jean-Louis Gunting, Esq. Pablo Prigioni will be Rick Smith. And so forth. We will never meet, let alone correspond. This is the only solution. We must disperse to prevent further terror.
Anyway, what happened tonight was: The Knicks played neither offense nor defense. We're used to the latter part. The charitable collective we call FARTDOG lifted Brandon Knight once more. Raymond Felton went limp every time he saw a screen and Knight hit the open shots granted therein. Giannis Antetokounmpo-- who is so lovely that I found myself enjoying his play even as he ravaged the Knicks, which is rare because I am a deeply bitter sports watcher-- parted the Knicks with bounding full-court jaunts. Khris Middleton, whose name I will forever pronounce as if it begins with a Hebrew ח, caught and buried threes every time Iman Shumpert or Carmelo Anthony pinched off of him, which was absolutely always. Zaza Pachulia, playing a decent chunk of minutes because of Larry Sanders's foul trouble, just worked Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire off the Bucks' glass. Everyone got worked everywhere. The Knicks sprung the occasional trap and jumped the occasional passing lane, but they mostly just stepped aside while the Bucks did as they pleased. The league's least efficient offense hit threes, got to the line, snagged offensive rebounds, and cruised in transition. They looked terrific for a night. That's what the Knicks defense does.
New York could have FARTDOG'd exactly that hard and still won with ease. Two Knicks tried to make that so. Carmelo Anthony played a spotty three quarters, then started cooking vats of soup in the fourth. J.R. Smith was hot all night as a catcher and maker of open threes, and even a bit as a driving foul-drawer. Those guys stayed effective right through the final minutes. Nobody else helped them. Raymond Felton created some out of the pick-and-roll and hit one three that seemed important at the time, but missed by a combined 20,000 leagues on his other six attempts. Iman Shumpert did only ugly and bad things with the ball in his hands except for a three and one nice little scoopy thing. Amar'e Stoudemire fell into that unpleasant forced-post-offense funk after a brief but nice pick-and-pop burst. Tim Hardaway Jr. just went cold. Tyson Chandler shot 1-of-damn-6 from the free throw line. Pablo Prigioni hid. Most everyone looked disengaged. Like CARMP said, the Knicks seemed like they'd been prodded awake in the middle of a nap, like they really needed to get back to sleep.
Still, New York had another sour, sloppy win in their sights, but they couldn't even muster that much. Knight torched Felton for a backdoor lay-in, then stuck a three right in his eye to put the Bucks up. Mike Woodson's last-second retort must have been "I dunno just chuck it from wherever", which Melo did, and the Knicks lost. At that point, I was relieved. I didn't want another five minutes.
So, I guess we ought to appreciate that week or two where we could look forward to watching the Knicks. The schedule for the rest of this month is mostly harsh. I am not hopeful.