Knicks fall flat against Bobcats
The discombobulated Knicks had one of their stars and their prized rookie back from injury Wednesday night. They had fresh memories of Monday's home loss to the Raptors and a warning from coach Mike D'Antoni to not let it happen again against a second-tier opponent such as the Charlotte Bobcats.
The only thing the Knicks forgot was all of it. They were outplayed at the Garden again and heard boos throughout as the Bobcats won, 118-110, to drop the Knicks to 2-4. A late Knicks spurt made the final score closer than the game.
"That hurt," said Carmelo Anthony, who had 32 points. "Just the way we've been playing the last couple games. I mean, it hurts to lose games like that."
Amar'e Stoudemire had 25 points and 12 rebounds after missing two games with a sprained left ankle. Iman Shumpert brought fearlessness and energy after sitting out four in a row with a sprained right knee. He finished with 18 points in nearly 30 minutes of play, but sat the final 3:50 with cramps in both legs.
Surprisingly, owner Michael Jordan's Bobcats (2-4) played like His Airness was on the floor with his tongue hanging out. Boris Diaw scored 27 points. Gerald Henderson had 24 and Byron Mullens contributed 16 off the bench. Rookie Kemba Walker, Charlotte's first-round pick out of UConn, scored seven.
"We can't keep giving games away like this," Toney Douglas said, "because we're playing for something."
The Knicks were beaten by a lower-rung opponent playing the second of a back-to-back on the road for the second straight game.
They certainly looked good early -- offensively. Eight of the Knicks' first 10 points came on uncontested dunks: three by Tyson Chandler and one by Stoudemire.
Unfortunately for the Knicks, the Bobcats also were scoring inside and at will with an array of fast breaks and layups. The boos began in the second quarter after Landry Fields missed a pair of free throws and the Bobcats turned a long rebound into a Corey Maggette driving reverse layup for a 50-40 lead.
The Knicks fell behind by as many as 14 in the period and trailed 62-52 at the half.
"The offense was good," D'Antoni said. "Just bad defense."
The Knicks lost Anthony to foul trouble with 8:54 left in the third quarter, but pulled to within 71-67 on Shumpert's three-pointer at 6:53. The run that was expected by the home crowd failed to materialize, however, as the Bobcats built the lead back up to 12 within two minutes of play.
The boos were heard again. It took a running three-pointer from Stoudemire at the buzzer to send the Knicks to the fourth quarter down only 10.
It got worse. Walker hit a three with 8:50 left to make it a 15-point game at 95-80. Then it was 16. Then it was time for the exits.
But not time for panic yet, right?
"There are 62 more games left," D'Antoni said. "Or 60 games left. I didn't major in math. So we know what we've got to do. They're good guys, a good group. They're talking about it. We'll solve the problem. We'll get it done here. But better to get it sooner than later. So we've got to get it going."