After Sunday's record-setting 50-point embarrassment, Mike D'Antoni showed the horror film to his players on Monday and offered them a stern reminder that the NBA season was officially into the second half of the schedule and that this was no time for licking wounds.
"The clock," he said, "is ticking."
The Knicks found the Timberwolves a perfect tonic, defeating Minnesota, 132-105, last night. The clock was barely three minutes old and the Knicks had taken a 15-0 lead against the overwhelmed young Timberwolves, who provided the perfect kind of opponent coming off the most embarrassing loss in Madison Square Garden history.
The Timberwolves have surrendered 120 points 12 times this season and lost by 20 or more 11 times.
It was a blowout last night before the end of the first quarter, when the Knicks held a 40-16 lead. The Timberwolves missed their first four shots and committed three turnovers on their first seven possessions of the game. Their first basket came on a Sasha Pavlovic fadeaway with 8:44 left in the quarter.
The Knicks held leads of as much as 30 and 31 points in the second quarter and took a 68-45 advantage into half time.
Asked if the blowout win erased the embarrassing loss on Sunday, D'Antoni said, "I don't think we're there yet."
Corey Brewer led the Timberwolves (9-37) with 22 points. The hot-shooting Knicks hit 17 three-pointers in the game, including eight out of 16 attempts in the fourth quarter. The teams play each other again Sunday in Minnesota.
While the Timberwolves, who cornered the market on point guards in last season's draft with Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio, improved their chances in the draft lottery for yet another high-end guard in Kentucky's John Wall, the Knicks, who are without a first-rounder this season, came into the night four games out of the final playoff spot in the East with 38 games remaining in the season.
D'Antoni emphasized the point to his players that while January may be the "dog days" for most NBA teams, this franchise can't afford it.
"This is our playoffs right now," D'Antoni said. "I don't care if we're not fresh in April. We need to win now."
Perhaps that's why Lee, playing in his last game before the all-star reserves are announced Thursday, was still on the court in the fourth quarter while the Knicks held a 30-point lead.
The ballots from coaches - reserves are selected by the Eastern and Western Conference coaches - are due Wednesday.
Lee remained in the game until 7:30 was left in the fourth, right after he scored on a tip-in that gave him his 26th double-double of the season. It should be noted, however, that rookie Jordan Hill, who played 1:10 in the first half, was ill and not on the bench in the second half.
Chris Duhon's shooting woes continued (0-for-3, now 6-for-43 in his last eight), but he did record 13 assists with zero turnovers in 31:04.