Remember all that optimism in New York this summer? Hell, remember all that optimism in New York a week and a half ago? It's mostly evaporated as the Knicks face the cold reality that they aren't a very good team. On Sunday night, the Knicks fell 104-96 to a Houston Rockets team missing star center Yao Ming and starting point guard Aaron Brooks due to injury.
It was the Knicks' fifth straight loss, and the competition hasn't been all that fierce (Philadelphia at home, at Milwaukee, Golden State at home, at Minnesota and Houston at home). Afterwards, Amare Stoudemire had some choice words for his team's effort. Via Jonathan Abrams of the New York Times.
"I'm not sure if it's the fact maybe a winning mentality has never been here. I'm just not used to it. I'm used to winning. I'm used to talking about winning and having that confidence toward winning. You just can't have guys complacent and comfortable with losing."
"I don't understand why we're not playing with the urgency. I'm not used to that. We're not playing like we're on a four-game losing streak, now five. We don't have that sense of urgency. It's almost as if it doesn't matter."
Stoudemire hasn't had a losing season in six years, and in five of those years, his Phoenix Suns won at least 50 games. So, quite literally, he isn't used to it. Of course, he should have known that it would be a bit of a bumpy ride when he signed on to play in New York.
Stoudemire had 25 points in the game, but his teammates didn't really come through to help him. Guards Raymond Felton and Toney Douglas shot a combined 7-27 from the field and had just seven assists. As SB Nation's Knicks blog Posting and Toasting notes, the Rockets were able to bottle up Stoudemire without having his teammates make them pay.
Amar'e Stoudemire's isolation game was alive and well in the first quarter, but the Rockets quickly switched to the "everybody guard Amar'e" strategy we've seen other teams utilize. As in previous games, it worked to perfection. Stoudemire struggled for the rest of the night while no other Knick could punish Houston for sagging into the middle.
The Knicks are now 3-7, and a four-game road trip out West begins Tuesday in Denver. If they do not turn it around quickly, the season could get out of hand in a hurry.