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The Knicks ‘Won’ Last Night, But It Was Not Fun for Anyone Involved

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 09:  (L) Amare Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks dribbles past (R) DeSagana Diop #7 of the Charlotte Bobcats at Madison Square Garden on January 9, 2012 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.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) Amare Stoudemire dribbles past DeSagana Diop of the Charlotte Bobcats.

So let's talk about happy things this morning. Puppies. Sunshine. "Party Down." The persistent belief that, mounting evidence to the contrary, man is essentially good and wants only peace for his fellow travelers. Louie Armstrong's recording of "Potato Head Blues." Tracy's face. And that the Knicks won their third in a row last night, putting them above the .500 mark for the first time since they were 1-0 after Christmas Day. That's good, and if you're lucky (or if you're a Time Warner customer), you didn't watch it, and that's all you know. But boy, if you did ... this was one of those wins that felt like three or four losses. Actually, that's not quite right: It felt like surviving a jump with a broken bungee cord. Except the Knicks cut the cord themselves. All right, we're dropping this metaphor, but we think you get it: The Knicks desperately tried to lose last night, but, despite their best efforts, couldn't pull it off.

The final score was 91-87, but we're pretty sure it was 103-102 going into the final two minutes, and both teams played so horribly that officials just kept subtracting points until the clock ran out. The Knicks led most of the game — thanks in large part to Iman Shumpert, who has become the immediate thumping soul of this team, and the one person who seems to hop around with energy, vigor, and youth — but completely imploded later, allowing the Bobcats to make what could charitably be called a "run" to tie the game. (It's more accurate to say the Bobcats stayed upright and forward-moving enough to benefit from the Knicks' death rattle.) The Knicks ended up hanging on, thanks to a few workmanlike drives from Carmelo Anthony — who was rather dreadful overall — and the Bobcats' handy insistence on missing game-tying three-pointers.

The Knicks' defense was a marked improvement over the last time they played the Bobcats — when they gave up 118 points — owing in large part to Tyson Chandler, who probably played his best game as a Knick, though he's still playing too many minutes for a 29-year-old center with a history of injury. But it continues to be amazing just how inconsistent and ugly — particularly late — a team with this much offensive firepower (and with an offensive-minded of a coach) looks sometimes when they have the ball. The last five minutes of the game, it felt like we were watching declawed cats try to climb onto a tall sofa.

The Knicks won last night, despite 38 percent shooting and a whopping three points off the bench. This is quite unsustainable. The Knicks are a rather lousy team right now, though, unlike fellow lousy team Charlotte, they'll surely improve as the year goes along. So it's nice to be lousy against Charlotte. It will be less nice against Philadelphia — who is leading the Atlantic Division — on Wednesday, a team that is cohesive and guard-happy in all the ways the Knicks are not at this second. If they play then, or any other night really, like they did last night, they will lose. And it will be ugly.

Last night, though: Win! Puppies! As long as there are no follow-up questions.

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Photo: Chris Trotman/Getty Images