At some point during every season, a good team will hit a low point -- the really good teams respond and bounce back, the others wilt away.
Now, the Knicks have a few losses on their record at this point. And last night wasn't even the worst of them (@ Philly a couple Saturday's ago still sticks out as Stinker of the Year). The house is not on fire and I'm not running for the hills.
But last night was a bad game. I don't care if the Wiz have beaten good teams this year. I don't care how much better they are with Wall on the floor. They aren't very good and they certainly aren't better than the Knicks.
Riding into town on a 5-game "we are reeaallly clicking now, guys!" win streak, the team came out flat, fought back as we all knew they would and then inexplicably lost the three-point lead they had built heading into the final frame.
The Wizards, a team that rarely responds well to a late game deficit (before last night, they were 0-10 in home games in which they were losing heading into the fourth), was the team finding the wide open three point shooters, while the Knicks looked like the inexperienced bunch, playing without any poise or cohesion over the final 8 minutes.
The Knicks lost a game that they should have won, to an inferior team, with a lead entering the fourth quarter. Period.
But, bad losses happen. No problem. That's why it's an 82-game season and a 7-game playoff series. To make sure one bad loss doesn't have that much of an impact.
So the lingering question on my mind is not why it happened, but how the team will respond to the fact that it happened.
After such a hot start, the Knicks need to keep playing with that chip on their shoulder, that sense that they are "proving all the haters wrong" with every made basket and every win.
I recognize that it is a lot to ask a team to sustain this do-or-die pace over the course of the season, but the lack of urgency last night was hard to ignore.
So one game, one loss, nothing major. But with the (similarly) lowly T-Wolves on deck, followed by the ailing Clippers and the Raptors, let's hope last night lights a fire under this team as we head into next week's All-Star break.