Harris DeckerThere was something different inside the Garden on Sunday night. During the eight game winning streak that was snapped, the team was playing with energy. It was the type of energy that you have to physically see in order to understand. They were having fun again. But it all came to an end.
As the arena filled Sunday night, the crowds energy was noticeably down. Several people sitting next to me commented that you could hear a pin drop, even as the Knicks built a big lead heading into halftime. Was the team letting down the crowd, or was the crowd letting down the team? We’ll save that for another time.
In either case, the Knicks were outscored big in the second half. They gave up 60 points, while scoring 39, and allowed backup point guard Jarrett Jack to lead the Cavaliers right past the Knicks. He finished with 31 points and 10 assists.
It was an important day for the Knicks for reasons outside of Madison Square Garden. Earlier in the day, the Toronto Raptors defeated the Atlanta Hawks, opening the door for the Knicks to climb just 2 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot. Coach Mike Woodson was very much aware of the Hawks loss before tip off.
“This was like a getaway game to get us set for the road and didn’t close it out” Woodson said. “We just didn’t handle our business and I have to take responsibility for that.”
This was the toughest loss of the season to swallow. It not only ends the eight game streak but comes on the brink of what was a crucial five game West Coast trip. In the next week, the Knicks face the Lakers, Kings, Suns, Warriors and Jazz.
While several of those teams are playoff bound, the real concern comes when the Knicks return home in April. During that month, they face a very tough schedule including the Nets, Heat and likely division winning Raptors. Last nights loss had a disastrous impact on the Knicks chances of making the playoffs and in my opinion was the win they needed to have.
Now they head west with their playoff chances fading into the sun.