If you need any more proof that the relationship between the New York Knicks and their fans is becoming dangerously poisonous, note that last night, the Knicks played on the road against the team with the best record in basketball, in the midst of a demoralizing losing streak, played their arses off ... and everyone still wants to kill them this morning. The Knicks, a team still trying to figure it out, a team that's actively tentative as they try to find the correct places to stand and shoot and dribble and pass and run, were right there with the league's top dogs for 46 minutes. (Albeit a top-dog team missing some of its own top dogs to injury.) The Knicks came out invigorated and played with the desperation we've been looking for from them. They just fell short. And all that anyone is going to care about is, "another loss."
Of course, there's not much more frustrating than watching the opponents grab an offensive rebound after a successful defensive possession, and Knicks fans had to undergo that particular indignity 22 times, including so many in the fourth quarter that we're pretty certain we threw about eleven different shoes at our television. It is always something with these freaking Knicks, and last night it was rebounding. No one expects Amar'e Stoudemire to turn into, well, Tyson Chandler or anything, but last night he had three rebounds. Three. Steve Novak had more than that.
As tends to be happening with the Knicks, one bad aspect of their game is sinking all the good things they're doing. (And they are doing good things.) It's Knicks Whack-a-Mole. Last night, they solved the third-quarter collapse problem, they solved the porous interior defense problem, they solved the "get Amar'e involved in the offense" problem, they even solved the "Jeremy Lin might be bad again problem" (he was terrific most of the night) ... but then they couldn't rebound and they couldn't execute anything in the fourth quarter. (And yes, if you're into that sort of thing, Carmelo Anthony was a big reason for that.) Maybe they'll be able to rebound better in the next few games. But then something else will pop up.
Also: It is probably time to stop letting yourself get angry over Carmelo Anthony's "poor body language." This is just the way he carries himself. It is not like he has been exuberant and electric until this six-game losing streak; that's just the way he is. It is not "poor body language." It is just "Carmelo's body language." Expecting him to suddenly start leaping around like Chandler during the Linsanity run — and how sad is it that the period already feels like nostalgia — is just a recipe for lathering yourself into a rage. Maybe Carmelo will start playing better and maybe he won't, but thinking he's going to find the Kevin Garnett Intensity Switch at some point does no one any good.
So, the Knicks are now tied with the Bucks for the No. 8 playoff spot. (And John Hollinger has the Bucks as the favorite for that spot, by the way.) They've lost six in a row and have almost the same record after 32 games than they did two years ago, when they had Chris Duhon in the starting lineup. They have a winnable game on Wednesday against Portland. They have a key home-and-home this weekend with Indiana. If they play like they did last night, they'll win at least two of those games. But at this point, who knows what they're going to be up to next? Are they going to care? Have we put more into this than they have? Was last night a last stand? These are all legitimate questions. This is either going to turn around soon, or it's going to get really ugly.