When the Knicks fell to 2-4 Wednesday night after having suffered losses to the likes of the Warriors, Raptors, and Bobcats, one thing was finally understood by everyone: no team represents an automatic (or at the very least) an easy win for the team any longer.
That is why on Friday night, when the Knicks fell behind as many as 16 points against the so far winless Wizards, as discouraging as it was, many would consider it par for the course. The team has struggled mightily this season, not quite yet finding its rhythm on either side of the floor.
The Wizards exposed the Knicks' main weakness (the team's backcourt of Toney Douglas and Landry Fields) early on, and John Wall ran around the court like Flash Gordon all game long.
Wall, who had 22 points in the game, and Nick Young, who led his team with 24, combined to shoot 10 for 14 from the field in the first quarter to help the Wizards pull away with a 32-18 lead.
Douglas continued to struggle for the Knicks, shooting 0 for 5 while committing three turnovers. Fields also failed to make a major impact once again, scoring two points in just 18 minutes.
Despite their struggles, the Knicks were able to slowly claw their way back into the game, trading leads with the Wizards again and again until the very end of the game. Having a superstar (or two, in the Knicks' case) will always help, and often propel the team to victory, as it did last night. Carmelo Anthony, who led all scorers with 37 points, acted cool, calm, and collected as he sank a three to give the Knicks a 98-96 lead, one they would hold onto in order to win and escape what would have been a tragic loss.
One thing to note as to why the Knicks were able to stay in the game throughout was Coach Mike D'Antoni's lineup adjustments. It appears as though through seven games, the leash has finally been shortened for both Douglas and Fields, the two players who have plagued the team the most on both the offensive and defensive ends during losses.
Rookie Iman Shumpert is quickly becoming the talk of the town, turning in another solid performance last night with 10 points, 7 assists, and 5 steals. He returned from an injury to record 18 points during Wednesday's loss to the Bobcats.
What's more, struggling veteran Mike Bibby finally rose from the ashes, providing the Knicks with a boost while scoring 11 points off the bench.
The two reserve guards certainly helped their team recover and come out with a victory. After days of speculation and proven production, it's likely Shumpert could be inserted into the starting lineup for either struggling starter as early as tonight's game vs. the Pistons.
With the momentum in the rookie's favor, it'd be smart for Coach D'Antoni to inject some life into the Knicks' lineup in an effort to pile up the wins.
Amar'e Stoudemire powered his way through a 23 point, 12 rebound performance in the win. Tyson Chandler added 12 points and a season-high 15 rebounds.
The Knicks battle the Pistons tonight in Detroit for what will be the latter half of the team's second pair of back to back contests of the still young season.