Before the Knicks opened an eight-game homestand against Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers Friday night, Mike Woodson dared to dream the impossible.
“If we can win all eight it would be fantastic, but it’s gotta start tonight,” the coach said. “We gotta get the first one first.”
The Knicks then proceeded to go out and get blitzed by Griffin and former Knick Jamal Crawford, 109-95, with Griffin bombing them for 32 points and 7 rebounds and Crawford pouring in 29 points.
Losers of three in a row, the Knicks now have seven home games, culminating with another showdown with LeBron James and the Miami Heat on Super Bowl Eve.
During this stretch, only two of the eight teams they face have winning records — the Clippers and the Heat.
It would seem like a good time for the Knicks (15-25) to put together a winning streak of some kind in order to gain ground in the Atlantic Division, where they sit six games back of Toronto. You have to think they’d sign for 6-2 on the homestand right now.
But several obstacles stand in the way.
For one, they are now just 7-13 at Madison Square Garden this season after going 31-10 a year ago.
“It seems that we can’t figure it out here on our own homecourt,” Carmelo Anthony said after putting up a bizarre line in which he went for 26 points and 20 rebounds while shooting 4-for-23 from the field but 16-for-16 from the line.
“Despite these last couple games, I think we got a great stretch that can work in our favor. If we get some things right, adjust some things and figure it out quickly, we got a nice stand here on our homecourt and we gotta get back to playing good on our own homecourt and feeling confident and playing basketball here.”
Another issue for the Knicks is that they will be without two key frontcourt players — Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin — for the homestand since both players are out approximately two weeks with sprained left ankles.
(In the Knicks’ world, that likely means more like four weeks.)
“We’ve been challenged all season long,” Anthony said. “It’s going to be a challenge without having those guys. Guys just gotta be ready and prepared.”
Jeremy Tyler flashed some promise, putting up 6 points and 2 rebounds in 14 minutes, while Cole Aldrich never got off the bench.
Next up on Monday is the arch-rival Nets, winners of seven of their last 10.
Asked if playing them could spark the Knicks, Anthony said, “I hope so. I hope so. We gotta get off this three-game skid and like I said, we gotta figure it out quickly….Be ready Monday.”
Adam Zagoria covers the New York Knicks and Big East hoops for NBA.com and SNY.tv. He also appears as a Big East Basketball Insider on SNY and 1050 ESPN Radio. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog.