NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — How quickly things change. Just one month ago, the Garden was rocking — and the Knicks were rolling.
Sixers guard Lou Williams did more than take over Sunday at MSG. He took whatever spirit the sagging Knicks had left. The good feelings created last month by Jeremy Lin’s emergence — along with Lin’s best play — seem long gone now.
“When we get down, it just seems like our whole energy just goes out the door,” Carmelo Anthony said.
Williams scored 12 of his 28 points in a dazzling third-quarter flurry, Evan Turner had 24 points and 15 rebounds, and the Philadelphia 76ers handed the Knicks their fifth straight loss with a 106-94 victory Sunday.
“I was just able to get some good looks,” Williams said. “In the third quarter, played with a ton of confidence and felt like I could make any shots.”
That mentality doesn’t currently exist for the Knicks, with bad body language everywhere and Anthony saying they had “no type of confidence out there.”
“Yeah, it’s definitely not easy,” said Amar’e Stoudemire, who scored just nine points and sat alongside Anthony for the entire fourth quarter. “Tough game in Chicago. A lot of games within this month against tough, competitive teams. So it’s up to us as players to want to do better out there.”
It’s not only the defensive effort. Coach Mike D’Antoni conceded before the games the intensity just isn’t always there from his team, saying the Knicks sometimes get “lost” or “sidetracked.”
And the crowd is recognizing it.
The building was often quiet, fans perhaps a little groggy after the clocks sprung forward and with an early start. But the Knicks also are not entertaining them the way they did during their seven-game winning streak last month. Lin has been solid but couldn’t be expected to sustain his sensational level of play, and the Knicks are still unable to settle on their best rotation with a much deeper roster than they had back then.
Anthony, usually loudly cheered, had some boos sprinkled in when he was introduced with the starting lineups. A brief “Fire D’Antoni!” chant broke out in the final minutes, and there were some loud boos near the finish.
“It’s not fun. Right now we’re finding ways to lose games, rather than finding ways to win them,” said Anthony. “Regardless of what they’re saying in the stands, boos or whatever, we’ve gotta block that out and play basketball.”
Anthony scored 22 points but didn’t make a field goal over the final three quarters, while Lin shot just 5 of 18 for 14 points with seven assists and six turnovers. Tyson Chandler had eight points and 12 rebounds after missing two games with a strained left hamstring, but he couldn’t solve the Knicks’ defensive woes.
“Collectively, we didn’t play well. Collectively, our spirit wasn’t good. Collectively, our defense wasn’t good,” said D’Antoni. “We have to solve that somehow.”
Philadelphia was up by eight late in the third quarter before Williams took over. He made two 3-pointers, a pair of jumpers and two free throws as the 76ers outscored the Knicks 16-8 to open an 89-73 lead.
“Third quarter, I guess, you know they hit a lot of shots, we were a step slow on defense and I didn’t take care of the ball,” Lin said. “So they get easy run-outs in transition and then we didn’t box out the way we should have, so more easy baskets and they get into a flow, they get into a rhythm.”
The Knicks might have hoped to catch the Atlantic Division leaders at one point but now are simply hoping to hold onto a playoff spot after entering play just two games ahead of Milwaukee and Cleveland.
They dropped all four games on their road trip and looked particularly lost without Chandler, their defensive anchor. They yielded 118 points in a loss at San Antonio and surrendered 119 on Friday against Milwaukee, and now travel to powerful Chicago on Monday.
“Times where we went on a little spurt where we didn’t make shots, guys were putting their heads down,” Anthony said, “and they heard a couple of boos out there, that just sucked the whole energy out of everybody tonight out there on the basketball court and we can’t have that.”
What needs to change for the Knicks to snap out of their slump? Sound off below…
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