Even with all sorts of momentum, coming in the form of a four game winning streak in their favor, the Knicks could not escape some of the struggles that have already plagued the team during the young NBA season.
There turned out to be a number of snafus and setbacks that awaited the Knicks in Memphis, but a couple of the downfalls seemed all too familiar. As the team saw its four game winning streak come to a halt with 94-83 loss to the Grizzlies, they were almost certainly able to recognize two things that appear will continue to plague them for quite some time: poor ball movement and a lack of depth.
Though rookie Iman Shumpert has appeared to be a godsend over the last four games, the phenomenon came back to Earth on Thursday night with his poorest performance yet.
Although he was designated as the starting "point guard," Shumpert appeared way too trigger happy to be any type of facilitator. What's more, while he had previously begun to prove he could contribute positively both with and without the ball, the rookie looked pressured as he forced up way too many shots, converting on only 5 of his 20 field goals and also committing six turnovers.
As has often been the case during the Knicks' five losses on the season, whenever the team's so called "point guard" is off his game, the entire team seems to crumble. This does make a great deal of sense, as fluent ball movement is key to the flow of the offense and essentially, success in Coach Mike D'Antoni's system.
Perhaps Amar'e Stoudemire's weak outing (the big man only scored 6 points on 1 of 7 shooting from the field) was in part due to the team's stagnant offense. That being said, STAT also found himself in heavy foul trouble throughout the game, only logging 19 minutes. It is very possible the lack of time on the court also limited him from getting into a groove.
Though Carmelo Anthony shot well, making 6 of his 11 shots, his playing time was also limited, having experienced injuries to both his wrist and ankle. He was forced to head back to the locker room before the final buzzer sounded, though X-Rays proved to be negative. He finished with 14 points.
The Knicks fell behind early, and things got ugly very fast. They never held a lead throughout the entire game, and by the time some of their fresh legs began to make a small run in the fourth quarter, it was simply too little, too late.
The Grizzlies improved to 4-6 on the season with the victory. While that record appears to be nothing to brag home about, the Knicks could learn something from the home team: pure resilience.
The Grizzlies have been forced to adjust again and again, dating back to last season. The team made noise and gained respect during the playoffs, battling the Thunder down to the wire, despite being without perennial all-star Rudy Gay.
Though Gay is back in the flesh (now playing through the pain), in fact scoring a season-high 26 points in his team's win Thursday, the Grizzlies are now playing without leader Zach Randolph, who will continue to sit out for a prolonged period due to injury.
The impressive thing about the Grizzlies is they have a balanced squad from A to Z, and are quite effective at adjusting/reacting to adversity, as well as featuring different players on both sides of the ball.
As the Knicks continue to work towards becoming a legitimate contender, that same resiliency, learning how to win should their stars be down for the court and/or off their games, is a skill they will surely need to hone moving forward.
After a four-game winning streak, however, the fact that Thursday was just not the team's night is a much easier pill to swallow. Every good team has bad games now and then.
The Knicks can bounce back Saturday as they look to take down the Thunder in Oklahoma City.