Commentary

'Bockers bottom out in home stretch

Knicks look down and just about out at MSG in a fifth straight loss ... to the Sixers?!

Updated: January 23, 2014, 10:10 AM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK –- Evan Turner transformed Madison Square Garden into his own playground, burying shots like Reggie Miller.

Thaddeus Young scored easily on backdoor layups and exploited the Knicks' defense with a 3-point dagger late in the fourth.

This is what rock bottom feels like for the New York Knicks. The lowly Philadelphia 76ers marched into the Garden and ran offensive plays with the precision of the San Antonio Spurs to hand the Knicks an embarrassing 110-106 loss.

The Knicks are supposed to be fighting for their playoff lives right now. This is supposed to be when they make a stand and turn the season around with a rare eight-game homestand, which includes some of the NBA's cream puffs.

[+] EnlargeAnthony
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsCarmelo Anthony's 28 points went for naught as the Sixers blocked out the Knicks to Garden boos.

Instead, the Knicks officially hit the low point of their season Wednesday, and Mike Woodson's job has to be in jeopardy. Woodson has watched his team lose its past five straight games, including three in a row at home. The latest home debacle -- to a team predicted to tank for a lottery pick -- was absolutely inexcusable.

The Knicks displayed effort on offense but played optional defense in the first half and suffered more defensive lapses in the second. It's one thing to get smoked by the Pacers last week in Indiana. It's another to drop double-digit home games against the Chris Paul-less Clippers and the rival Brooklyn Nets.

Wednesday, the Knicks fell off the cliff. Woodson's squad lost to a team coming off seven losses in eight games. The Sixers (14-28) scored 100 points for just the second time in nine games.

The Knicks (15-27) knew coming in how much could be riding on this game. This team is teetering on the brink of completely unraveling, and Wednesday's loss is the type that defines a bad season and can sink the coach.

Woodson walked off the Garden floor looking steamed, and he had every reason to be.

The Sixers routinely outhustled the Knicks to rebounds and tip-ins. Turner lit up the Garden for 34 points and 11 rebounds. Rookie Michael Carter-Williams had 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

Philadelphia outrebounded the Knicks 54-39 and grabbed 17 offensive rebounds. It outscored the Knicks 50-26 in the paint, scored 19 second-chance points and converted too many backdoor layups.

Still, the Knicks had a chance to win with two minutes left, down 102-100. With an opportunity to help solidify the ground Woodson walks on, the Knicks let Young (19 points) slip wide open for a 3-pointer on a blown switch with 1:47 remaining.

The last thing Woodson needed after having to defend his defensive philosophy, which Tyson Chandler questioned Monday after the Nets loss, was a game-costing blown switch.

"We botched it up," said Woodson, who is coaching without the injured Kenyon Martin and Amar'e Stoudemire. "We botched a defensive play on our part."

After Young's 3-point dagger, Anthony, Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith combined to miss four straight 3-pointers. Turner scored his last basket to put Philadelphia ahead 107-100 with 1:14 remaining, and the Knicks dropped their most damaging and telling loss to date.

[+] EnlargeMike Woodson
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsCoach Mike Woodson's seat has never been hotter in New York.

You can't say the Knicks quit, because the effort was there on the offensive end, where five Knicks scored in double figures. But to allow the Sixers to score 33 in the first quarter and 61 by halftime is damning.

Defense and rebounding is about effort. And when the game was on the line, the Knicks let the Sixers take it away from them.

What happens from here? Ownership and management have to assess whether the locker room still backs Woodson. You would think management has already started that evaluation. If the Knicks make a change, finding a replacement won't be easy. There's no coach-in-waiting on Woodson's bench. And what good, unemployed coach out there would want to take over a team midseason with Anthony's future up in the air? Woodson remains the best option for the Knicks -- for now.

The Knicks play their next four games at home against the Bobcats, Lakers, Celtics and Cavaliers. A four-game streak is possible but awfully difficult to imagine right now.

Anthony said he doesn't see the Knicks tanking.

"Guys are probably not used to dealing with situations like this," Anthony said. "Any negativity, any confusion can sink into the locker room. Right now, I don't see that. Guys are just upset that we're losing, and it's unacceptable."

The frustration is growing like the number of losses. Anthony's New York future remains hazier than ever. The losing hangs over the Knicks like a permanent polar vortex.

"As a team, we've got to stick together and don't let anything come between us," Anthony said.

They were supposed to come together against the Sixers. Instead, the Knicks hit rock bottom. And it feels like it will only get worse.

Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
Follow him on Twitter »  Ohm's chat archive »

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