When your team is struggling the least you can hope for is an explanation — a reason to have hope that things will turn around.
The Knicks are 3-6 in their last nine and 2-5 since the return of scoring star Carmelo Anthony. And worse yet, they have no idea why.
“I don’t know. I really can’t answer that,” Anthony told reporters after Wednesday’s embarrassing loss in San Antonio when asked if he knew why the team was struggling. “I really can’t put a finger on it.”
One of the problems against the Spurs was defense — a problem exasperated by the absence of center Tyson Chandler and defensive ace Jared Jeffries. Chandler is questionable for Friday night’s game in Milwaukee with a hamstring injury, while Jeffries has already been ruled out thanks to a sore foot.
But the issue goes deeper than players who will soon return. The players on the court aren’t excelling either.
Anthony scored 27 in Wednesday’s loss, but eight of those came in the fourth quarter when the team already trailed by 20. The fit with Jeremy Lin, which everyone feared, seems to be coming to fruition.
The complementary pieces that sparked the team in Anthony’s absence were non-existent. Steve Novak, Baron Davis, Landry Fields and Iman Shumpert were a combined 6-for-23 with 14 points.
“[The Spurs] don’t have nearly enough talent to compete with us,” Amar’e Stoudemire told reporters after the game. “Our personnel, our talent, is off the charts.”
The Knicks have one more game on their road trip to prove that. They’ve lost the first three games on the trip and even when they return home they face the Sixers and then travel to Chicago to face defending MVP Derrick Rose.
If they aren’t careful, the losing streak could balloon.
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The Knicks are still No. 8 in the Eastern Conference, one spot but three games, ahead of the Bucks team they face Friday. But the chances of the Knicks avoiding a matchup with top seeds Miami or Chicago are slipping away.
Lin-sanity hits the skids
No one expected Jeremy Lin to keep scoring at the rate he was when Carmelo Anthony returned. But the wins, they were supposed to keep coming.
His statistics are clearly down, including just 5.3 assists per game and a field-goal percentage of 38.6 percent on their current road trip.
But the three losses are more worrisome.
“Tough times,” Lin told the New York Post. “We don’t want to blow anything out of proportion. We haven’t had everyone healthy a lot. The world’s not coming to an [end].”