Isiah's Knicks Follow Tradition, Lose to Nets

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Jason Kidd drives past Channing Frye and Stephon Marbury
in the fourth quarter last night.Photo: AP

If you thought the Academy Awards had the market cornered last night on empty theatrics, predictable results, and lukewarm competition among pampered, overpaid, washed-up stars, then you weren't watching the Nets' ritual flogging of the Knicks, now a quadrannual affair. The iron law of this ceremony, at least over the past five years, is that the Knicks lose and, because their record is already so bad, it means absolutely nothing. True to form, last night they efficiently converted a nine-point halftime lead into a nine-point loss. But there was also a surprise: This time, if you really lowered your standards, and squinted, and maybe watched your TV through sunglasses, it almost seemed for a minute like it sort of meant something.

This is mainly because the Knicks and Nets both play in the worst division of the NBA's wretched Eastern Conference, where mediocrity is the new dominance. Despite sub-.500 records, both teams have an unconscionably good shot at making the playoffs. Last night was a chance for the Knicks to make a Major Statement in their catfight for the final two postseason spots — if they'd been able to hold on to their halftime lead, they would have pulled into a tie with the Nets in the standings.

The fact that they didn't, however, just confirms everyone's suspicions that Isiah's Knicks remain, despite glimmers of optimism, Isiah's Knicks. It seemed appropriate last night that the mascot of the team's dubiously shining future, David Lee — with his raging addiction to hustle, his magic fingers, and his recent run of luck in Vegas — sat out with an ankle sprain. The future, the team seems to be going out of their way to remind us, is not now.
Sam Anderson