December 04, 2022

This one really hurt, riding a - game winning streak and creeping closer to the final playoff spot, the New York Knicks faced the Cleveland Cavaliers knowing the team they are chasing (Atlanta Hawks) had already lost earlier in the day. That news seemed to bolster the Blue and Orange from the very beginning as they jumped out to a 34-27 first quarter lead paced by Carmelo Anthony's 12 points.

The bench kicked in scoring a combined 17 points between Pablo Prigioni, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Shannon Brown to take a 1- point halftime lead. For a change, it appeared that New York regained the home court confidence they established last year. Then, Cleveland led by Jarrett Jack's (31) and Dion Waiters' (22) points played with the mindset that if they can't make the playoffs, neither should the Knicks.

The comeback began with the Cavs outscoring the Knicks 28-23 in the third getting within 7 (84-77). Then, New York could not hit a shot and could not defend the pick and roll. They missed 13 shots while turning the ball over 5 times. Meanwhile, Cleveland took advantage on the inside, scoring 40 points in the paint. They shot a ridiculous 77% in the second half erasing a 17-point deficit after a Jack 3-pointer with 3:54 left gave them their first lead of the game.

Waiters scored his last points with a trifecta and Anderson Varejao victimized the Knicks with yet another pick and roll ending in his slam extending the lead to 6 (100-94). A J.R. Smith jumper and two Anthony free throws got the Knicks within 2 (102-100) but that's as close as they would get.

As a unit, the Knicks knew they blew an opportunity to not only extend their winning streak to 8 but to get within 2 games of the Hawks. Especially knowing they are about to embark on a 5 game western swing that starts Tuesday night against the Kobe-less Lakers.

Head coach Mike Woodson wanted this game as a springboard to the upcoming trip.

"This was like a getaway game for us to get us set up for the road," he said afterward. "We didn't close it out. So we got to go on the road and win all 5 if we can."

Center Tyson Chandler (4 points) coming off the game against Philadelphia in which he scored 17 points in the win gave kudos to Jack.

"Jarrett Jack took control of the pick and roll in the second-half. He made some tough shots especially down the stretch."

The New York Knicks have 12 games left in the regular season, eight of them on the road.

If they do make the playoffs, they will face either Miami or Indiana. They will be facing teams that are still jockeying for playoff positions. That's why games like last night were one they could not afford to lose.

New York Knickerbockers Executive Vice President and General Manager Glen Grunwald announced today that the team has re-signed guard Pablo Prigioni to a contract. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Prigioni, 6-3, 185-pounds, was the first Argentine-born player in Knicks history and made his NBA debut at age 35 after signing as a free agent on Jul. 24, 2012. He averaged 3.5 points, 3.0 assists and 1.8 rebounds over 16.2 minutes in 78 games (18 starts) this past season and was inserted into the Knicks starting lineup on Mar. 18 to help lead the team to the franchise's third-longest winning streak of 13. In 11 postseason games (10 starts), Prigioni averaged 4.5 points, 3.2 assists and 1.27 steals over 20.9 minutes.

"We are very excited to have Pablo back in a Knicks uniform. He is one of our catalysts on both the offensive and defensive end," Grunwald said. "His tenacity, leadership and experience played an integral role in our team's success down the stretch, and into the postseason."

Matinee games and the Knicks have been going together like those hideous orange uniforms they have displayed having lost all previous 6 games. So it was interesting (especially coming off their last 2 games) to see how they would fare against the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday afternoon at the World Most Famous or some would say "infamous" Arena.

With the heat mounting on head coach Mike Woodson and injuries to Raymond Felton, Kenyon Martin and Pablo Prigioni, Woodson elected to go with his bigs in the starting line-up, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani against the smaller Grizzlies. The strategy backfired as Memphis jumped out to a quick 17-8 lead after a Mike Conley short jumper. New York managed to right themselves going on a 14 to 8 run cutting the deficit to two points (25-22) at the end of the first period.

Tim Hardaway, Jr got the crowd into the game with a vicious dunk after a Carmelo Anthony steal giving the Knicks a 3-point (28-25) lead that would not last long. In the blink of an eye, the Grizzlies outscored the Knicks 25 to 12 taking a 10 point (50-40) halftime lead. Ex-Knick Zach Randolph 11 and Tony Allen 13 points leading the way. Meanwhile, the Knicks shooting was atrocious. They attempted 10 three-pointers missing 9. Anthony misses 6 of his first 10 shots, Bargnani 4 out of 5 and Iman Shumpert missed all four of his.

It went from bad to worse in the third period even though New York was only outscored by 1 point (22-21). Jammal Franklin, the latest guard the Knicks made look like an all-star, goes in for an uncontested lay-up pushing the lead to 14 (72-58). Memphis, crushing them on the boards out rebounded them 44-23. Seventeen second chance points and a whopping 11 to 4 in offensive rebounds. The final results would be even more horrific.

Down by 12 to begin the final period, the Grizzlies went up by as many as 19 (85-66) with more than five minutes to go. Boos raining down from the frustrated crowd. The Knicks frantic comeback was started by a Hardaway, Jr 3-point bomb and when Anthony finishes a lay-up, the lead dwindled to 10 (85-75) getting the crowd back into the game. But just like all game and all season, the defense that defined the team last year, could not get stops when needed.

New York managed to get the lead down to four points (91-87) after Chandler converts free throws with 25.6 left. It would be the last points of the game for them as the Knicks lost for the 10th time at home. The big line-up was anything but as Memphis outscored New York 60 to 28 in the paint and out-rebounded them by an astounding 56 to 29. Something Woodson was not pleased with.

"That is embarrassing especially when you start a big lineup," Woodson said.

He called out players he felt were responsible.

"Tyson, Bargnani, Melo have to rebound the ball better and we have to do it as a unit. We could not keep them out of the paint and that was a problem."

The loss dropped their record to 8 and 18 and they are quickly becoming an afterthought in a division that can be taken by anybody.

"I take pride in trying to win games at home" continued Woodson. "That was the whole beauty the last two years. We have been slow in that area and that has put us in a hole. If we won half of our home games we would be sitting at the top of our division the way it is playing out. We have to put a string of wins on the road. That is the only way we can get out this hole."

If the New York Knicks keep losing, be it at home or on the road, Woodson may not be around if they do climb out.

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