At the beginning of the season Carmelo Anthony made it be known he would become a free agent at the end of this season. On Christmas Day the New York Knicks got a taste of what life what be like without him. The results were not pretty.
The Knicks suffered the worst defeat ever by a team on Christmas Day, losing 123-94 to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder were led by Kevin Durant, who scored 29 points (10-16) in 32 minutes. Serge Ibaka also had 24 points. The Thunder (23-5) would have likely beaten the Knicks even if Anthony had played, but once the Knicks fell behind by 14 at halftime there was little chance for a comeback.
Without Anthony and Raymond Felton, the Knicks had to rely on J.R. Smith and Beno Udrih to initiate the offense. Smith was 8-22 from the field, scoring 22 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 21 off the bench but the Knicks needed a lot more to have a chance and they simply did not get enough from the rest of the team.
Beno Udrih complained after the game about the criticism he has received. The veteran guard has been thrust into the starting role with the injuries to Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton. At this stage in his career he is not capable of playing at a high level for the minutes required of a starting point guard.
Asked if the team is still responding to coach Mike Woodson Udrih said, “It’s tough to say. It’s tough to be in his shoes, too. I’m not just saying his message doesn’t come across. Maybe we’re not hearing the right thing, or I just don’t know. We all have to communicate better as people.”
Udrih is right the Knicks need to be on the same page going forward. According to ESPN, Knicks owner James Dolan has informed the players and coaches that no trades or firings will occur for the foreseeable future. If that is correct, the players and coaches are going to have to turn around their 9-19 start with the roster that is currently in place.
The Knicks have two games against the division leading Toronto Raptors tonight and tomorrow night. Two wins would put the Knicks 1 game behind Toronto for the Atlantic Division lead.
Anthony will be sidelined for tonight’s game against the Raptors, but Metta World Peace will play after missing time because of a sore left knee.
To make a run, the Knicks need Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni to get healthy soon. Most of all they need Carmelo Anthony to come back from his left ankle sprain.
The Knicks have not been very good with Carmelo Anthony this season, but Christmas Day showed us that they are a lot worse without him.