After a while, the drumbeat of "Knicks Lose" stories will break the spirit of the most hopeful, face-painting fan, so we're not going to make a habit of it. Because they're not stopping. They're not even slowing down.
We were at the Knicks' 114–101 loss to the Hawks last night, their fifth in a row and eighth of nine to start the season. What was particularly discouraging about this loss was that the Knicks led for the whole first half and even by as much as thirteen at one point. Yet there wasn't a single moment when you didn't know the Knicks were going to lose. It was never in doubt.
It wasn't a matter of cynicism, and it wasn't a matter of openly rooting against the Knicks, either. The crowd, as sparse as it was, made its fair share of noise, more than you'd expect, considering. But the vibe was never one of inspiration. The cheering was more for the sight of your 8-year-old earning a walk in his first at-bat: You're happy he reached base, happy for him and for yourself, but you know he's going to strike out next time he's up. You're applauding the moment, rather than the future. You're pleased there was a brief moment where there was no embarrassment and no sadness.
Those moments ended, of course, as the Hawks finally woke up from a half-long slumber and wiped out the Knicks in the second half. At this juncture, the main bright spot for the Knicks is Toney Douglas, who had 23 points and appears to be the only Knick with any pep in his step. As for everybody else ... shiver. (Chris Duhon might be the worst player in the NBA right now.) The Daily News reported a faint "Fire D'Antoni" chant from the rafters last night, but we didn't hear it. After that first half, we didn't hear much at all.