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knicks

The Knicks Are Sorta Hideous Right Now

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 4: Iman Shumpert #21 of the New York Knicks is challenged for the ball by Boris Diaw #32 of the Charlotte Bobcats during the first quarter on January 4, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) At least this guy played hard.

If you take the long view, and you remember the last decade of Knicks basketball, specifically the last three  years, it could almost feel like a blessing to hear all the boos at Madison Square Garden. There are a lot, you know — a lot. There certainly were a lot of boos during last night's grotesque 118-110 home loss to the Bobcats, a team that's off to even a worse start than the Knicks. (Well, at least until they beat the Knicks last night.) Still, before Amar'e Stoudemire came here, but after Isiah Thomas had left (sorry, "left"), there weren't that many boos. Boos only come when there is expectation, and there certainly wasn't any then. So that's something, right? The pain the Knicks' awful play is causing is good, because it means we care enough to expect more. Right? Hey, we're trying to look on the bright side.

As Seth put it in his P&T recap this morning, the Knicks' defense is a disaster right now, but it's not because the team didn't have training camp. It's because their defensive scheme is so obsessed with switching off screens that it's leading to ridiculous matchups and easy layups. It's also because, as new "defensive coordinator" Mike Woodson is surely noticing, the Knicks just don't have particularly skilled defensive players. Amar'e Stoudemire, in his first game back, pretty much let Boris Diaw — who is currently the size of a non-Billy Baldwin brother — do whatever he wanted. Tyson Chandler has been vanishing. The Knicks don't have anyone to play or guard the point. These problems are starting to look less like early-season issues, and more like actual problems.

Another issue: The Knicks don't seem to be playing all that hard. Now, most of the time when we hear that, it sounds like lazy fandom, a "dem fellers need to HUSTLE!" resentment of tall millionaires. But when someone like rookie Iman Shumpert can stand out so much — despite being a dreadful passer and generally playing out of control most of the time — simply by moving so quickly and having such passion, it speaks poorly to the energy level of everyone else. The Knicks have lost at home to the Raptors and the Bobcats in consecutive games. It's difficult to blame that on early chemistry issues and a lack of training camp. No one else had training camp either, after all.

Carmelo Anthony says the Knicks are upset and that it "can't get worse than this," which is totally not true: They could lose their next two games against inferior teams, for example. Meanwhile, Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski is in town writing "look out D'Antoni" columns. This is a team that had many expectations, none of which it is meeting right now. But let's not worry about that just yet. Let's just worry about winning a damn game, any damned game, first.

(By the way, because of the MSG-Time Warner dispute, we've been watching these games on pirated feeds. Shhhh.)

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Photo: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images