Tyson Chandler has taken losses harder than any of the other Knicks players, harder than he did last season. The Knicks' higher expectations could have something to do with it, or perhaps it's because Chandler isn't playing as well as he's capable.
Chandler is the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and the Knicks' defense has been the biggest issue in their last two losses.
They gave up 245 points at Dallas and Houston. Jeremy Lin and the Rockets rang up 131 points -- more than any team scored against the Knicks last season -- and enjoyed a 28-point laugher Friday.
"We're just getting flat-out beat and it's difficult to get help," Chandler said. "It's coming too fast. We've got to get stronger. I'll take full responsibility. We've got to get better. That's my end and I'll take it."
It's not all Chandler, not when the Knicks have allowed 196 points in the last six quarters of the three-game trip. It's a team-wide lack of commitment and focus defensively. But Chandler hasn't been as effective as he was last season in guarding the paint or playing help defense.
The Knicks were outscored by 10 in points in the paint, were minus-23 in second-chance points and were outrebounded by 24.
The Knicks (8-3) also have taken a nosedive in the defensive rankings. Before Dallas, the Knicks were allowing the fewest points in the NBA (88.9). They dipped to 11th by the end of the trip at 95.0 per game.
"You've got to be concerned," Chandler said. "We've got to get it together. That [Houston] team, first of all, they're not better than us. They're not 30 points better than us. That's no disrespect to them. We can't allow that to happen. The same thing with the Dallas Mavericks. We've had two letdowns. We've got to get together, got to get our focus back."
If there's any consolation for the Knicks, the low-scoring Pistons are in town Sunday. They began Saturday 26th in points (92.2) and have reached 100 only three times. Either Detroit (3-10) will be the cure for what ails the Knicks, or vice versa.
But if the Knicks want to be a championship contender as they say they do, they will play with more urgency and be more committed defensively, the way they were earlier this season.
"We got the record that we have because we've been defending," Mike Woodson said. "We haven't been rebounding that great, but our defense has held us in and has created for us, and now we're just trying to outscore teams, and that's not good enough."
Some of the Knicks' concerns could be resolved if Rasheed Wallace can play Sunday. He was a late scratch Friday with a sore left foot. Wallace has been one of the Knicks' leaders off the bench with his hard-nosed play, defense and shooting.
Another player who might be able to help but has been curiously out of the rotation is former Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby. He has been one of the NBA's better shot-blockers and rebounders his entire career. It's unclear why Woodson isn't playing Camby, who missed most of training camp with a strained calf, but it could be a conditioning issue.
"These last two games haven't been us," Carmelo Anthony said. "We've been fighting an uphill battle. Giving up 30-something points, that's not our identity. We got to get back to doing what we do best."