What the Knicks do next could determine their entire season



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Twenty games in the game, and the Knicks are officially entangled in their first crisis. It is not his first losing streak of three games; that trifecta carried out the season, but that was still when we, and, really, they, thought that this could be a real mud flood of 82 games. They were 0-3 then. It was impossible to guess how bad it could be.

This time, they have 10-10 after this Nyquil special from a 103-91 loss to the Blazers. They were booed, and booed aloud, the fans allowed them to have it right, and they deserved every serenade, every raspberry, every ovation from the Bronx. They were terrible and they heard a lot about that.

"That game was low energy for our guys," Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. "We are not a team that can come out and say that we will look for it later, we have to do it from the top, and our energy was not there during the first three quarters."

It's funny how fast the stations can collapse, right? Last Wednesday the Knicks defeated the Raptors, and they felt very good about themselves, and Tim Hardaway had talked about wanting to break his eight-game losing streak in Toronto so "fans can have a Happy Thanksgiving."

They were 10-7, and they were heading towards the pitiful Atlanta, and then they proceeded to drive the hapless Hawks out of their building … until they did not do it at all, until they could not make a shot, they could not ( or he would not) protect anyone, he did not seem to be able to unite two possessions without stumbling.

They lost that night. They were bombed the following night in Houston, although they inexplicably competed with a lead of 22 points in the first quarter (which, against the offensive of the space age Rockets, never reached 22 or 12. OR 2.) Here , Wednesday, they were at home, rested, against a Portland team playing their third game in four nights and …

"Maybe they thought to go back home, the crowd will help us overcome it and in the end it will work," said Hornacek . , calmly, though he would not take an MRI machine to detect that his stomach had been shaking for three hours. He is not someone to cheat. But he is also not shy about frank self-evaluation:

"We can not think that we are nothing more than the team that has to play the 48 minutes as if it were the last minute of the game," he said.

Courtney Lee said: "We do not play against each other on either side of the court tonight, and that's not how we've been playing most of the year."

And then there's a crisis, a family member, an alarming one if you're a Knicks fan who's happy about what happened in the first quarter of the season. it shows to you. After all: two years ago, halfway home, the Knicks were 22-22. Last year the initial record was 14-10. This time it was 10-7.

Two years ago, the Knicks lost four in a row, 11 of 12, and 28 of their 38 finalists. Last year they were three in a row, 12 of 15 and a one-way ticket to 31-51. That does not mean it should happen again this year. But there are certain unmistakable signs that only five days after feeling like princes of the city, they have lost much of their karma. And trust.

To begin with … seriously, who knew that Enes Kanter was going to be the MVP of the team? It is not just the obvious fact that they are 0-3 in the three games they have now lost with back spasms, it is how different they look and feel and act without it. For a while it seemed that Hardaway was the emotional core of the team, but Kanter's absence has shown how valuable his presence really is.

(And again, seriously … who knew?)

Would you like to think that the same ration and reason why you should have applied the brakes too much optimism after the 10-4 that followed the 0-3 start should also put the last 0-3 in perspective. There is so much negative recent history to use as source material. And your own lying eyes.

"The boys do not need motivation," said Hornacek. "They are professionals, the motivation is to go out and play hard."

Starting on Wednesday, we'll see if that's enough to prevent a crisis from becoming more worrisome. Like a cliff.

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