- Last Updated: 9:30 AM, May 4, 2012
- Posted: 2:32 AM, May 4, 2012
As the slaughter continued, as the awful avalanche grew calamitous, the saddest sound of any sporting year started to descend upon Madison Square Garden, the sound of a season entering its final death rattle.
It can happen early or it can happen late, can come for a baseball team before the Fourth of July or for a football team after New Year’s Day. For the Knicks, it happened in the first minute of a fourth quarter that will disgust fans of the team and the sport across every hour of a rapidly onrushing summer.
It happened as LeBron James shrugged off an evening of indifference, as he laughed off a two-hour verbal assault from the 19,763 people who witnessed this, as he outscored the Knicks all by himself, 17-14, in the final quarter, as he pulled down one of the curtains on the Knicks’ season, with the last one to follow on Sunday.
The final score was 87-70.
The final verdict is this: The season can’t end soon enough. And the Knicks seem perfectly willing to comply with that.
“We couldn’t find it,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson would say. “We were so stagnant. Tonight we played one side of the ball all night, which was ridiculous.”
So think about that as you cue up the finishing music for these 2012 Knicks. At the end of this most unpredictable season, they feel better about their defense than their offense. They can guard well enough to muck up the game for a few quarters, even against the mighty Heat, keep it ugly enough to remain interesting for three quarters.
And simply can’t put the ball in the basket anymore.
Where have you gone, Mike D’Antoni?
“In the playoffs you have to take good shots,” J.R. Smith said.
In these playoffs, it hasn’t mattered, not for a Knicks team for whom offense is suddenly a second language. Most of the attention will be lasered on the back of Carmelo Anthony, and to a degree that’s where it belongs. In three games he has played exactly one good half, and the Knicks simply aren’t going to win like that, aren’t going to beat anyone, least of all the Heat, when Melo shoots 7-for-23.
“They’re doubling him, forcing him to take tough shots, and even when he passes the ball … we have to get other guys comfortable shooting the ball,” Woodson said, and what he really meant but was too diplomatic to say was this:
“I’d rather Melo take 30 shots left-handed than see [enter any Knick you please here] shoot with his shooting hand.”
So that’s where the Knicks are now, as they prepare for their 70th game of the season, as they prepare to say hello, we must be going. Is there a chance the Knicks could still steal one? Sure. The Heat have to go back to Miami anyway after Game 4. There is always the chance LeBron and Dwyane Wade could play four quarters the way they played the first two last night.
And Melo could drop 45. You’d have to say the man is due.
Of course, at this point you have to wonder what the point would be. The Knicks season needed a defibrillator, anyway, after those two brutal no-shows in Miami (and, come to think of it, if that was the protective glass Amar’e Stoudemire shattered the other night, maybe it would’ve been more understandable).
Every season dies. Sometimes it’s in glory: Justin Tuck, to name one Giant, seems intent on attending every New York sporting event in this offseason, and you would, too if you kept getting standing ovations every time you walked in the door. Sometimes, it’s in ignominy (ask D’Brickashaw Ferguson how he enjoyed his reception last night).
And sometimes it’s almost as an afterthought. That was the worst part. As the happy part of the night played out for the Knicks in the first half, you could see the news of Mariano Rivera’s knee injury bouncing from section to section, fan to fan, like that old Norman Rockwell painting. New York was already numb. The Knicks just added an extra injection of novocaine.
The better to quiet the death rattle that sure seems imminent.