Monday, March 24, 2014
Knicks head west for pivotal road trip
By Ohm Youngmisuk
The Knicks head west Monday, hoping they can keep their faint playoff hopes alive.
After squandering a 17-point lead at home and losing to the Cavaliers on Sunday, the Knicks need to overcome a three-game deficit for the eighth spot in the East with 12 games to play.
Can't blame Carmelo Anthony for feeling unhappy after the Knicks' latest loss.
“It is definitely an opportunity lost,” Tyson Chandler said of allowing the Cavs to halt an eight-game winning streak. “But now we got to move on and we got to do a good job on this West Coast trip and try to come away with a clean sweep.”
The Knicks (29-41) open a five-game swing in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Tuesday. They also play Sacramento, Phoenix, Golden State and Utah on the trip.
The eighth-place Hawks' next five games are against Phoenix (on Monday), at Minnesota, against Portland, at Washington and against Philadelphia.
The Knicks have to play better to win on the road. Let’s take a look at the next five games:
Los Angeles on Tuesday: The Lakers (23-46) are coming off a win over the Magic but have lost seven of their past nine. Mike D’Antoni’s team is surrendering an eye-popping 122.6 points per game during that stretch.
The Knicks have no excuse for not putting up points against the defenseless Lakers. Phil Jackson could very well be in the house as well. Consider this as close to a must-win as there is.
Sacramento on Wednesday: The Knicks will try to exact some revenge against the Kings on the second night of a back-to-back. Sacramento beat New York at the Garden in overtime 106-101 on Feb. 12. The Kings (25-45) have won two of their past three, and DeMarcus Cousins is a force. He had 32 points and 12 rebounds Sunday in a win over the Bucks.
This one won’t be as easy as it appears on paper, especially since the Knicks are 10-15 at Sleep Train Arena. But since New York lost Sunday, it really can’t afford to lose this one.
Phoenix on Friday: The Suns (41-29) will be returning home from a three-game road trip. They are fighting for the eighth spot in the West and are playing well, having won five of their past six.
The Knicks have won their previous two in Phoenix but are 6-14 overall at US Airways Center.
Golden State on Sunday: Facing Stephen Curry is obviously no picnic for the Knicks. New York lost at Golden State last year in embarrassing fashion 92-63 and has dropped its past two at Oracle Arena. The Warriors (44-27) have won eight of their past 11.
Utah on Monday: The Knicks finish the road trip with the second of a back-to-back set in Salt Lake City. The Jazz have lost 11 of 13. This is basically another must-win.
The Knicks likely have to win at least three, if not four, games to still be in the playoff hunt after this trip. Atlanta very well could keep New York in the thick of the race through the first couple of weeks of April.
“It’s tough,” Carmelo Anthony said. “We should’ve won this game. We gave it away. They earned it. ... But it’s behind us now, nothing we can do about that. We got the Lakers coming up, a big road trip ahead of us.”
“I got faith that we can make a run,” Anthony added. “We’ve been playing extremely well. As far as how many wins it’s gonna take [to make the playoffs], who knows? We can’t worry about how many wins it’s gonna take. We gotta go play.”