Knicks frustrated, confused with lack of effort

Widespread Panic arrived at Madison Square Garden on Saturday

night.

OK, that’s just the name of a band that was performing, not the

feeling surrounding the basketball team that was busy losing again

in another part of the arena.

The New York Knicks aren’t panicking, at least not yet. But

after dropping five straight games at home, they are frustrated and

confused, and aware they need to get things turned around

quickly.

”We keep digging ourselves deeper and deeper – I know it’s

early in the season, you’ve got to take it day by day – but at the

rate this is going, we’re going to be in too deep of a hole to dig

out,” All-Star Carmelo Anthony said.

The Knicks lost 110-90 to the Atlanta Hawks, another alarming

night in a season that’s already produced plenty of concerns. The

Knicks admitted they didn’t play with defensive intensity or a

fighting spirit, which is far worse than just playing poorly.

”It ain’t got nothing to do with making shots or missing shots.

We’re just not doing it on the other end,” Anthony said. ”We’re

not defending, we’re not giving no effort. We’re not playing right

now.”

After a rare season of stability in 2012-13, the Knicks are a

mess again. The Sixth Man of the Year who was promoted to the

starting lineup might be shooting his way back to a reserve role.

The $100 million former All-Star wants more minutes, even though he

and the team look bad in the limited ones he is playing.

”I think everything that we’re doing is correctable, but I

think effort has got to come behind it a little bit more and we’ve

got to be true to ourselves, because we’re not playing well as a

unit right now,” coach Mike Woodson said. ”We’re just not.”

The Knicks are 3-6 after winning 54 games last season and their

first Atlantic Division title since 1994. They were blown out twice

in a week on their home floor and things might be getting worse at

home: The next team to visit is Indiana, which shares the NBA’s

best record and pushed the Knicks around while ousting them in six

games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

New York loaded up on older players last season, and Rasheed

Wallace and Kurt Thomas broke down and Jason Kidd ran out of gas

before the finish line. But first they helped provide the veteran

leadership this team sorely lacks, especially while Tyson Chandler

is sidelined with a broken leg.

Saturday felt like a night straight out of the Isiah Thomas era,

with bizarre story lines, bad basketball, and unrest coming from

the stands. There were the continued trade rumors surrounding Iman

Shumpert, louder and more frequent ”Fire Woodson!” chants, and

seemingly more attention paid to J.R. Smith’s poor Twitter judgment

than his poor shot selection.

He shot 3 for 18 and fell to 8 for 43 for the season at MSG, the

worst start by a player on his home floor since DeShawn Stevenson

started 6 for 43 for the Nets in 2011-12, according to STATS.

Woodson said he would re-evaluate Smith’s position in the

starting lineup, and he’s still seeking the best use of Amare

Stoudemire. Stoudemire is being limited to about 10 minutes a game

after three knee surgeries in the last year, robbing him of any

chance to get in a rhythm. He had a few nice moments on offense

Saturday, but defensively his presence on the floor remains an

invitation for the opponent to run pick-and-rolls that exploit his

lack of mobility.

Add it up and it’s created what Anthony called a ”nasty

feeling” within the team.

”We’ve just got to stick together and stick with it as much as

we can. This is probably going to be the lowest point of the season

for us,” Smith said.

Their division is so bad right now that the Knicks are only a

game out of first place. That’s about the only consolation for

Woodson, a defensive-minded coach with a team that doesn’t have a

defensive mindset.

”Defensively, somehow we’ve got to figure out who we are and

right now I don’t know who we are,” Woodson said. ”That’s on me,

again, because I’ve got to get us back to competing defensively

somehow. That’s the only shot I think we’re going to have in terms

of getting back in the winner’s circle consistently.”

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