Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — The Knicks are running out of gas.
That’s what Amar’e Stoudemire said after New York lost its fourth straight and seventh in eight games, 111-99, to Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
“It’s a lot of games in a few nights…it catches up with you at times,” said Stoudemire, who managed just 13 points on 6 of 20 shooting.
The Knicks (35-36), who have been as many as seven games over .500 this season, fell below that mark for the first time since Nov. 27 when they were 8-9. They are 7-10 since the Carmelo Anthony trade.
“I mean, that’s not good but that’s not going to define the season,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We have to get in the playoffs. Hopefully, we can finish above [.500], if we can. Our goal right now is to get into the playoffs. We have about a month to get things straight, get people healthy and hopefully we’ll do that.”
After initially scheduling a practice Thursday, the team decided to cancel it and rest for Friday’s game with Milwaukee.
The Knicks have already played 14 games in the month of March and still have four remaining, including at Chicago on Saturday and another home tilt with Orlando Monday in the makeup from the asbestos game.
“I don’t think I’ve played in a month this hectic in probably my career,” Stoudemire said. “So it’s weighing a toll on us a little bit.’
Said D’Antoni: “Amar’e is tired. We’ve worn him down a little bit.”
Stoudemire said he got tired in the first quarter, when the Knicks trailed by as many as 10 points before taking a 59-55 halftime lead.
“I started to get a little tired in the first quarter, actually, but I happened to try to push through it and push through it because it was a very important game for us,” he said.
Part of the fatigue issue is related to the Knicks bench, one of the least productive in the NBA.
“I just think they’re flawed,” an Eastern Conference scout told The New York Times.
“You have no depth,” he said. “You’ve got five good starters and a sixth man in Toney Douglas and who is the next guy? Jared Jeffries is your next-best player?”
Douglas scored 17 off the bench against Orlando, and Jeffries failed to score.
Once again, the Knicks collapsed in the fourth quarter and were outscored, 33-21.
In their past four games, the Knicks have been outscored 119-78 in fourth quarters.
“It’s hard to explain,” D’Antoni said. “Our first halves are really good and then the second halves are not so good.”
“The team just kind of starts to play not to lose instead of to win,” said Chauncey Billups, who finished with 17 points but just three assists.
Carmelo Anthony, who ran the offense for part of the game, and had nine assists, managed just three points in the fourth quarter.
“I really can’t put a finger on it and what’s going on,” Anthony said. “In the fourth quarter when we get down we panic a little bit.”
He added: “We need to relax and have fun. I don’t think there is no fun in the game and we need to bring it back in the game. These times are not going to last forever.”
**Dwight Howard says he’s not thinking about 2012. Stan Van Gundy says he’s the MVP.
**NBA.com notebook with notes and quotes.
(Photo courtesy Daily News)
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.