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Knicks Lose Game, Carmelo, Fans’ Will to Live

MEMPHIS, TN - JANUARY 12: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks shoots around Marc Gasol #33 of the Memphis Grizzlies on January 12, 2012 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee.  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 Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) 'Melo, pre-ankle damage.

We are sure there have been Knicks games worse than last night's during coach Mike D'Antoni's tenure. The team was 61-103 during his first two years; surely, there are dozens worse. But at least the teams in those losses had a point guard, even if it was Chris Duhon. The Knicks don't have a point guard right now, and it was never more apparent than last night. The Knicks got killed, looked pathetic doing it, and, oh yeah, might have lost their best player to a sprained ankle. Great night.

The final score was 94-83, but the outcome was clear from pretty much the first quarter on. Even so, it was the third quarter when everything fell apart, with the Knicks being outscored 26-14 thanks to about 61 missed shots from Iman Shumpert. We probably need to talk about Shump first. The rookie has been thrilling and energetic for the Knicks so far this year, but there was, in fact, a reason a hyperathletic, big, fast combo guard would fall to the middle of the first round. Shumpert is not a very good shooter, but he does believe he is, and last night, with Amar'e Stoudemire out with foul trouble and Carmelo Anthony out with a sprained ankle, Shumpert let his freak flag fly. It wasn't pretty. He ended up 5-for-20 shooting on the evening, including several "I'll just chuck it from the 3-point line on the break even though no one's back to rebound and all five Grizzlies are standing right in front of me." Georgia Tech fans, who were most frustrated by Shumpert when he played for their school, have been waiting for Shump to have a night like this for the Knicks: They've seen many like it.

For all the frustrations with the Knicks' offense, it really just comes down to the essential fact that the Knicks don't have a point guard right now, and nothing in Mike D'Antoni's offense works if you don't have a point guard. Even Chris Duhon, after all, was a point guard, a point echoed by MSG's Alan Hahn last night. (Speaking of MSG, last night's game was on TNT and the first game Time Warner subscribers have been able to watch in 2012, thanks to that idiotic fight among billionaire corporations. Great timing.) It's a bit presumptuous to believe that Baron Davis — who should return by the end of the month — will solve all the Knicks' problems ... but man, having someone who has played the position regularly in their lives has to help.

But the real story, the only one that matters, is Anthony's ankle. It's not broken, thank heavens, but Anthony didn't return after spraining it and is far from certain he'll be ready for tomorrow night's game at Oklahoma City.

“I can wrap the wrist and play through that,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ four-game winning streak ended. “A sore ankle ... that’s a little bit more to deal with. I want to see how I feel about Saturday. I don’t want to force it.”

The Knicks are now 6-5 and traveling to play a Thunder team that's 10-2 in the midst of a five-game winning streak. The Knicks still have no point guard and will almost surely be without Anthony for the night. So they should be right back at .500 by the time the weekend's over. Great.

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Photo: Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images