The Knicks can curb the talk about being championship contenders. Their immediate future looks bleak after a third straight defeat and the sight of Tyson Chandler needing help to leave the court last night.
Chandler left the Knicks' 102-97 loss to the Bobcats with a right knee injury. He banged knees with Kemba Walker in the first quarter and looked to be in severe pain. He couldn't put weight on it and needed assistance from Cole Aldrich to get to the locker room.
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The Knicks said X-rays were inconclusive and Chandler would undergo further tests today. It doesn't sound good and it didn't look good, which is troublesome for the Knicks since Chandler is one of their most indispensable players.
"We don't know the severity yet," coach Mike Woodson said, wearing a look of concern on his face. "We'll know more [this] morning when he goes to the docs and then we'll have a better feel of where we are as a team."
The Knicks definitely aren't in a good place. They're 1-3 and already have lost two home games. They hadn't dropped their second game at the Garden last year until Dec. 21.
They started sluggishly for the second straight game and were booed at home again. Amar'e Stoudemire was booed several times during his ineffective five-turnover night.
"We're going to have some challenges," said Carmelo Anthony, who scored 32 points. ". . . We've got to want to step up to those challenges, go from there and see what happens. It's easy to go into a dark place right now. It's easy to listen to all that negativity that's going to be coming our way, but we've got to stay together as a unit, as a team, remain positive and get through this."
Like in Sunday's loss to Minnesota, the Knicks were down double-digits in the first half, came back and fizzled late. They nearly erased a 13-point third-quarter deficit, but wasted three chances to tie or take the lead with two misses and a turnover. "Our defense, it stinks the last two outings in the first half," Woodson said. "We got to get it fixed."
The Knicks only hit one basket after cutting it to 91-89 with 4:09 left. Anthony's three-pointer made it 99-96 with 16.2 seconds left. A steal of the inbounds pass led to two Iman Shumpert foul shots, but he made just one. Gerald Henderson was fouled intentionally and hit both free throws with 13.5 seconds left to give Charlotte (2-2) a four-point lead. Walker had 25 points.
Other than Anthony, Chandler is the Knicks' most irreplaceable player. He anchors the defense and was averaging 9.0 points, 11.7 rebounds and three blocks entering last night. The Knicks don't have many options behind him. Stoudemire can only play once every two or three days and is on a minutes' restriction. Kenyon Martin was supposed to be unavailable after playing Sunday, but he started the second half and had an impact in 18 minutes. Aldrich, their only other center, has yet to play and was inactive last night.
Asked if he would have to reconsider the platoon system with Stoudemire and Martin, Woodson said, "I got a lot to think about right now."
Said Anthony, "We're just not getting it done. The good thing is it's early, our first four games, but we've got to figure it out. We've got to keep our confidence, remain confident as a team and get through this. I believe and I know that for a fact we will."