The New York Knicks were blown out by the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday in Madison Square Garden 110-90. The Knicks allowed the Hawks to shoot 54.6% from the field, while only shooting 37.6%. The Knicks have lost 5 games in a row at home. That is their longest home losing streak since Mike Woodson took over as head coach.
The Knicks got 45 points from Carmelo Anthony, and 24 points from Andrea Bargnani (9-12) on Thursday and still lost to the Houston Rockets. The Knicks are still struggling to defend consistently and get balanced scoring. The only certainty for the Knicks right now is that they are a bad basketball team.
After erupting for 45 points in Thursday’s loss, Anthony looked like the inefficient guy we have seen throughout this season scoring 23 points on 8-21 shooting. J.R. Smith had back to back nightmare shooting games going 4-16 on Thursday and 3-18 on Saturday. The only player who has been consistent the past few games is Andrea Bargnani.
The Knicks have no answers. Coach Woodson has said, the Knicks are not paying attention to detail and that he has to try and motivate the players. Woodson is trying to remain positive, but he even called the team “soft” after Saturday’s loss to Atlanta. Some fans chanted “Fire Woodson” during Saturday’s game.
At 3-6 the Knicks need someone to step up and spark a turnaround. The man that can do so is Raymond Felton.
Felton has been abysmal so far this season. He is shooting a pedestrian 37.6% from the field, including 20% from three point land. He is averaging 11.6 points and 5.3 assists, but Felton is also averaging two turnovers per game. Felton is far from the only player struggling on the Knicks right now. Iman Shumpert — the recent subject of trade rumors — and J.R. Smith — just returning from knee surgery — are having struggles of their own. However, Felton’s struggles are more important because his play affects the rest of the team the most.
As the team’s point guard Felton is responsible for setting up the rest of the team to score. To do so he also has to be a threat to score. Through nine games he is simply not producing enough offensively. When Felton is at his best he is pushing the tempo and scoring easy baskets in transition or finding open teammates.
Felton — who has never been known as an elite defender — has been getting badly outplayed by opposing guards. The Knicks’ defensive woes are not completely Felton’s fault, but he has routinely allowed guards to get into the lane. Teams are scoring at will in the paint against the Knicks. Without Tyson Chandler it has only gotten worse.
In Felton’s defense he has been bothered by a hamstring injury. It could be the reason for Felton’s slow start, but if he is playing it is no excuse.
The Knicks need Felton to become a threat offensively and be at least average defensively to have any chance at turning this season around. If Felton can provide consistent point guard play it will take pressure of the rest of the team. If Felton is effective, he will take the burden off Carmelo Anthony to be the primary playmaker on offense.
The Knicks are a team with many problems, and few answers. Strong play from Raymond Felton is a start to a possible solution.