The New York Knicks (32-20) went into the All-Star break on a minor two game skid, which I assumed would be washed away with a strong start to the second half of the season.
I was wrong.
The Knicks got rocked by the Indiana Pacers (34-21) 125-91, and were down by as many as 39 in the embarrassing loss. J.R. Smith got himself ejected, Carmelo Anthony went 7-21 for just 15 points and Iman Shumpert was held to four points in 25 minutes.
Hey, I thought, it happens. All teams struggle at some point or another over the course of a long season. Surely the Knicks will redeem themselves against the Toronto Raptors (23-33) and snap out of this little spell.
Again, I was wrong.
The Raptors pulled off a two point upset over New York 100-98, and Mike Woodson called his team’s shot selection “awful.”
“We didn’t play smart coming down the stretch,” Woodson said. “We had opportunities to take the ball to the rim and make plays, and they were blowing the whistle. I have to think we would have got some calls, but we didn’t. We settled.”
Settling- that was what I was scared of with this team all along after beginning the season 18-6. The Knicks have now dropped to the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, as the Pacers jumped a half game ahead of New York.
“When you lose games like this it’s easy to start thinking too much, over-thinking what you should do, what you shouldn’t do, rather than just going out there and playing basketball,” Anthony said after dropping 32 points the loss to Toronto. “I think that’s where we’re at.”
The Knicks are also just a game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets for the lead in the Atlantic Division, a title that could easily be taken across town if the Knicks continue to flounder. Just two and a half games separate the Knicks from the sixth seeded Atlanta Hawks, which is extremely alarming for a team that has now lost four games in a row.
It is time to hit the panic button in New York, because to me, this does not look like a team that can make a deep run in the play-offs.
I hope I’m wrong again.