We know you're not going to want to hear this. We know you're frustrated by the Knicks' 118–105 loss to the Spurs, the team's third straight loss, the fifth in their last seven games. We know it feels like everything is lost. We know you want someone fired/beaten/punched. But let us, on this calm, soothing Thursday morning, attempt to assuage your fear, your anger, your strife. There are reasons not to lose one's proverbial excrement. Allow us to give you five.
You ready? Here, take our hand. We'll guide you through this. Don't freak out. Go toward the light.
1. Last night was sort of meant to be a loss. On the road against one of the best teams in the NBA, the Knicks were going to need something spectral to win against San Antonio. Mike D'Antoni, in one of those decisions you hire a coach to make, decided that Tyson Chandler and Jared Jeffries were better off resting their weary bones. So, shockingly, the Spurs were able to drive the lane with no resistance. It's easier when you're not facing premier interior defenders. (Though we will say the string of "point guards having career games while being guarded by Jeremy Lin" is somewhat alarming.) It's extremely difficult to win in San Antonio even at full strength, with your team in sync. There's nothing to be ashamed of by losing to the Spurs on the road.
2. This is the scary part of the schedule. This little four-game road trip was always going to be perilous. The problem was not last night's loss or the loss to Dallas; the problem was that brutal loss to Boston that ensured they couldn't split this trip. To be very clear: Dallas and San Antonio are among the best teams on earth. Winning on the road against those guys is so hard. The Knicks could be clicking the way everyone wants them to, and they still probably would have lost these two games.
3. They're almost surely making the playoffs no matter what happens. Have you seen the Eastern Conference lately? The Knicks have a 71 percent chance of at least securing the No. 8 seed, and a win over Milwaukee on Friday (please beat Milwaukee, you guys) would probably push that near 90. Sure, they're now five games behind Atlanta (and four and a half behind Philadelphia) to get out of that dreaded 7-8 Miami-Chicago seed, but still, you know, playoffs.
4. Carmelo still can play? He still hasn't figured out where he works in the offense, and boy did he miss a lot of people who were cutting to the basket ... but he can still score. He has not lost the ability to do that. The Knicks haven't found the best way to use this in a Lin Landscape, but he can still do it. It's not like the Space Jam aliens took his talent away.
5. THIS TAKES TIME, PEOPLE. It is the Knicks' misfortune that the period in which they're trying to solve the mystery of their rotation, to get all their talented pieces working together at once, happens to be right when they're facing the roughest stretch of their schedule all season. That's not so much an excuse as an explanation; the Knicks just aren't ready yet. Carmelo isn't meshing, Jeremy Lin is adjusting to having two different defenders punch him in the face every time down the floor, Amar'e is getting his legs back, so on, so on, so on. Now, it's possible that these problems aren't going to be resolved, that the Knicks will never get everyone moving in the same direction at the same time. If that happens, well, then it's time to panic. But right now, the Knicks aren't in a position to have everything clicking at the same time, particularly with Chandler needing rest and Anthony having some sort of existential crisis. Will they get there? Hopefully! But they're not there now, and while that adjustment happens, they're not going to look 100 percent. Basketball is hard! They're working on it.
Is this apologetic for a team that we want to stay excited about but that keeps losing? Of course. But all is not lost. There are still plenty of reasons to be hopeful. And hey: What other choice do we have at this point?