Knicks fans may be in an absolute panic after watching their team lose for the seventh time in its last eight games, but the team's latest superstar isn't.
After the Knicks fell apart in the second half and were defeated by the Orlando Magic, 111-99, last night, Carmelo Anthony lived up to his nickname "Melo" when he said that the team is putting "too much pressure" on itself.
"We're losing games we should be winning. I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves," he said. "We're too tense on the court. We just need to have fun. I think there's no fun in the game right now. That's just something we need to get back in the game."
It certainly hasn't been much fun for Knicks fans to watch their team struggle since the trade that brought Anthony and Chauncey Billups. The loss to Orlando dropped the Knicks' record to 7-10 since the trade. It also dropped the Knicks' overall record to 35-36, marking the first time that they have been below .500 since Nov. 27.
With 11 games to go in the season, the Knicks still are struggling to find a way to get all their key players to play consistently for four quarters.
Wednesday night, it was forward Amar'e Stoudemire who struggled. Stoudemire had his worst game of the season, scoring 13 points and making just six of his 20 shots in 40 minutes.
Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said after the game that Stoudemire is tired, worn down from a long season and an 18-game March schedule. Anthony, who has been the player most under fire, had one of the more productive nights of his Knick career, scoring 24 points with nine assists and five rebounds.
"Amar'e is tired," D'Antoni said. "We've worn him down a little bit and tonight we struggled a little bit. The first half was really good and the second half turned out to be not so good. Somehow we need to be able to carry that over."
The Knicks lost control of the game when Orlando went on a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter. Gilbert Arenas made a pair of free throws, Jason Richardson made a three-pointer, and Arenas followed with consecutive buckets to make it 90-82 with 7:55 left.
Center Dwight Howard led Orlando with 33 points and 11 rebounds. Howard averaged 27 points and 17 rebounds in the two team's previous meeting this season. It was the fourth straight win for Orlando. All of the Magic starters were in double figures. Jameer Nelson scored 19, and Hedo Turkoglu had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Fans at the Garden clearly are losing patience with the team, which they booed at the end of the game. Billups believes there is no special cure for what is going on with the team.
"My philosophy has been you play yourself into a slump, so you play yourself out of it," he said. "There is no magic. Keep fighting, keep scrapping and the main thing is to stick together."
Billups said that he, Anthony and Stoudemire talk frequently about what they need to do to get the team jump-started. Though the Knicks have only 11 games left, he believes they will put it together before the playoffs.
So does Anthony: "Everybody just has to relax, out there and play basketball the way we know how to play it,'' he said. "These times are not going to last forever."
Knicks fans certainly hope not.