After successive blowout victories, New York Knicks welcomed division rival Boston to Madison Square Garden for a noon game on Sunday hoping to push their winning streak to three games. Later the same day, the Lakers welcomed their franchise leader, Kobe Bryant, back to the court at Staples against the visiting Raptors. Despite the expectations, both Kobe and the Knicks failed to get a win, so which one performed worse?
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The Knicks had actually won back-to-back games entering Sunday’s noon contest against visiting Boston, but the good times didn’t last. The 2-game respite from this season’s ills was most likely the result of Orlando missing a few key cogs in their rotation and the Nets simply stinking, more than it was anything the Knicks did. The blink-and-you-missed it interlude from New York’s losing ended on Sunday, and the Celtics walked away with a 41-point victory, the largest in the NBA this season, and the third-worst loss in Madison Square Garden history.
The final tally was 114-73, but even such a lopsided final score failed to highlight just how dreadful the Knicks were at home. The MSG crowd was loudly booing by the end, but those and could have started in the first quarter. That’s when the Celtics started off the game with a 25-3 drubbing in the game’s first eight minutes.
The Celtics would go on to win the first quarter 35-11 while also winning the remaining three quarters on their way to the blowout. After going into halftime down 27, the Knicks never cut the deficit below 30 in the second half. It was painful to watch, and owner Jimmy Dolan was up and out of his seat along the baseline before the final buzzer sounded as a cacophony of boos rained down. It might have reminded Dolan of some of the early JD and the Straight Shot shows.
After the Sunday afternoon massacre, everyone was trying to figure out what happened. Mike Woodson — trying his hardest to hold on to his job and keep the Knicks’ variegated problems from imploding the whole operation — took full responsibility for the loss, which smacked of seppuku more than leadership. But at least Woodson is owning up to how awful his team has been. He wasn’t the only one.
Marc Berman at the New York Post wrote that Carmelo Anthony seemed to have felt the sting of defeat more than his teammates after their awful loss on their home floor. Any conspiracy theorists out there will surely point to ‘Melo’s post-game comments as a sign he’ll bolt once the season is done.
Anthony described the loss as “an embarrassment,” and was torn up about it once the final buzzer sounded:
Anthony was by far the most distraught player in the locker room, speaking in a hushed, shaky voice. While several teammates shrugged it off as a day they missed early shots and let it affect defensive intensity, Anthony went deeper.
Asked if he was puzzled by the reversal, Anthony said, “That might be a understatement. It was an embarrassment to lose like that on our home court. I think everybody should be [ticked] off.”
“It was a good old fashioned [butt]-whipping to me,” Anthony added.
Jordan Crawford had 23 in the victory for the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics (record: 10-12) and Jared Sullinger poured in another 21. ‘Melo was just 5-of-15 from the floor to lead the Knicks with 19 points, and Amar’e Stoudemire actually looked good after scoring 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 21 minutes of action, but the numbers don’t really matter when you’re staring at 45-point deficit in the second half.