It's time to talk about another New York Knicks disaster. On Monday, they had a one-point lead over the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden with 24.5 seconds left in the game. They'd outscored the Wizards 35-22 in the third and gone on a 13-2 run just a couple of minutes earlier. Though they trailed for most of the game, they just needed a stop and they could wrap things up.
Then this happened:
Wow. I'm … uh … not sure how that could have gone worse. While it's not great that Beno Udrih was tasked with guarding Bradley Beal in a clutch situation in the first place, New York's help defense situation was a mess. Before Beal even made his move, Udrih made it very clear he was leading him baseline. None of Udrih's teammates did anything with this information, allowing Beal to waltz in and give his team the lead.
Perhaps part of the reason Beal went untouched was simply that this is what happens when you play Andrea Bargnani at center in late-game situations. Part of it might have been that everyone assumed Udrih would take a foul, as Knicks head coach Mike Woodson apparently told them to do in the previous timeout, via ESPN New York's Ian O'Connor:
"There was absolutely nobody there," Beal said.
"I think they got lost," said his teammate, Marcin Gortat. "I don't think they were on the same page defensively because Beno sent him baseline. I don't know what they were trying to do."
For good reason: The Knicks didn't know what they were trying to do, either.
"We just have to do a better job as players in that situation," J.R. Smith said, "to take the foul."
Even after that debacle, New York still had 6.9 seconds to win the game. Woodson had three timeouts left, but elected not to use one, even as his players were discussing the breakdown that led to Beal's basket. The Knicks inbounded the ball to Carmelo Anthony, who dribbled down the court and launched a highly-contested running three-pointer at the buzzer, which missed badly and left the home crowd confused and shocked.
Woodson, who has been subject to speculation about his job status throughout this disappointing season, blamed himself for failing to call the timeout, via ESPN New York's Ian Begley:
"I probably should have taken a timeout there at the end, but you know, Beno [Udrih] grabbed it [to inbound] and the ball is in Melo's hands before I could even react, and I should have reacted a lot sooner once the ball went through the bucket. So, that's on me," Woodson said. " .... I didn't call the timeout so I've got to take the heat for that."
Anthony, who told reporters there was "nothing to discuss" on Woodson's job status and the team was rolling with its coach, acknowledged the error, via O'Connor:
"We were supposed to call a timeout, we didn't, and we lost the game," said Anthony, who was told Woodson had admitted the whole thing was his fault.
"If he said it's his fault, then it's his fault," Melo said. "There's no need for me to talk about that or make excuses for it."
J.R. Smith, meanwhile, said that it should have been on the players to call timeout, sticking up for Woodson just days after reportedly refusing to shoot after his coach criticized his shot selection:
JR Smith: "Woody's gonna put it on himself that he should've called timeout. But we as players should've called timeout."— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) December 17, 2013
Apparently the New York front office is evaluating Woodson's performance on a game-by-game basis. You can't think he graded out well here. The loss means the Knicks are now 7-17 on the season, 4-9 at home and 4-9 since owner James Dolan gave Woodson a public vote of confidence.
Tyson Chandler might be back to the lineup as soon as Wednesday, but there's no telling many games Woodson will get with his big man to show that he should stay. Woodson has been lamenting his lack of a "full deck" all year, but it will likely take Chandler a little while to get back in rhythm and Dolan is known for making rash decisions. There could be more tumultuous times ahead in New York.