25 games. That's how many the Knicks have left to get their act together, especially to jump up to the sixth seed or higher to avoid playing the Heat or Bulls in the first round.
To many outsiders, the ship carrying New York's pro basketball players has sunk. But to those point guards on board, acting as the primary navigators, 25 games is plenty of time.
After addressing questions all related to the Knicks' recent struggles, following their 106-94 loss to the Sixers Sunday afternoon, Baron Davis was asked if the 25 games remaining on their schedule was enough to direct their ship away from stormy weather.
"That's how many games we have left? That's more than enough," he said in the Knicks' locker room, smiling with a mix of jest and sincerity.
Jeremy Lin shared the same sentiment.
"I think 25 games is a long time," he said. "It's a rough stretch that we've had, but it's only been five games. If we take care of business, if we win five in a row, then everything is going to be flip-flopped and we're going to be feeling great. We've got to keep the big picture in mind and try to get better."
It starts tonight in Chicago, no matter how good the Bulls are. Excuses will not be tolerated moving forward. Even if the Knicks lose by a few tonight, sustained effort and energy for 48 minutes (and overtime) have to be there. No more collapses after halftime. In fact, in their past three games (all losses), they've had the worst average third-quarter scoring margin in the NBA (-10.3 points). Against the Sixers, they got outscored 38-24 in the period.
The Knicks will obviously have their hands full guarding Derrick Rose, a player who hardly gets rattled with whatever is throw at him. That's a mentality Lin needs to develop sooner rather than later. He started the Sixers game running the pick-and-roll effectively, from which the Knicks scored eight points in the first quarter, but then the added pressure and defensive traps caused him to lose focus and commit turnovers. From there, the offense broke apart. That's also because his teammates didn't come to his aid very well.
The Bulls have the second-best defense in the league (88.7 points per game allowed), after the Sixers (87.3 ppg). So if Lin and the Knicks can build momentum from their stronger finish on Sunday, winning the scoring margin 21-17 in the fourth quarter, things could be looking up tonight at the United Center.
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