Last night, after the Knicks lost a tough game at home against the San Antonio Spurs, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said to the assorted media throng, “We are everything that we need to be.” This is not something you would expect to hear from D’Antoni, who, as some would tell it, is constantly complaining about all these horrible players he’s stuck with while he waits for LeBron James. And here he is, talking about how he’s happy with his team, how — get this — the defense is doing what it needs to do to win games? This isn’t what the Knicks are supposed to be, right?
The Christmas Day loss to the Heat wasn’t pretty, by any stretch of the imagination, and it was doubly homely if you were expecting to see a running-and-gunning, Seven Seconds or Less, Paul Westhead-at-Loyola-Marymount type of team. That is to say: if you hadn’t watched the Knicks all season. The great irony of the Knicks’ pseudo-success this month — 8–5, enough to push them into a spot away from the playoffs — is that it’s been founded in defense: that vague, elusive concept that D’Antoni supposedly doesn’t care about. When Jared Jeffries is playing as many minutes as he is, and is as valuable as he has become, offense definitely isn’t your top priority.
So why have the Knicks lost two home games in a row, including that eyesore against the Heat (while you were jumping into stacks of wrapping paper)? Because they stopped shooting: The Knicks were two for sixteen from three-point range against the Spurs yesterday, and it wasn’t much prettier against Miami. The Knicks do have quality shooters (though, we lament, once again, Chris Duhon at the point — imagine this team with even a slight upgrade at the position), but right now, they’re not hitting. It happens. Everyone goes cold.
D’Antoni has the defense that he wants and just needs the offense to come around. Black is white, friends, and white is black.