Jordan Crawford parts the orange sea. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)
After a pair of blowout wins over the Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic late last week, the New York Knicks suffered their worst defeat of the season on Sunday, a 114-73 drubbing at the hands of the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Celtics that stands as the most lopsided result in the NBA this season (eclipsing a 38-point Los Angeles Clippers win over the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls) and the third-worst loss at Madison Square Garden in franchise history (trailing a 50-point beating by the Dallas Mavericks in 2010 and a 43-point defeat by the Charlotte Hornets back in 2002. The visiting Celtics dominated the Knicks from the opening tip of the Sunday afternoon matinee, scoring the first 12 points of the game, leading by 17 points midway through the first quarter and needing just over 11 minutes to open up a 25-point cushion that was never seriously threatened.
The ball movement and open-3-pointer-hunting of the wins over Brooklyn and Orlando was replaced by isolation, stagnation and bricks. The defense, which had at least been passable against the Nets and Magic, was once again virtually nonexistent. Jordan Crawford and Jared Sullinger looked like All-Stars; Amar'e Stoudemire scored 17 points on seven shots but gave it all back (and then some) on the other end; Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton and just about everyone else on the New York roster looked like they'd rather be doing anything in the world than wearing a Knicks uniform.
Considering they were wearing the team's new orange alternate jerseys, maybe that makes some sense. Those tank tops seem to be cursed, with the Knicks losing all six times they've worn them this season — their premiere, to a Rose game-winner on Halloween; their home debut, to a Spike-dapping Kevin Love; to the San Antonio Spurs, in J.R. Smith's horrendous return; to the Atlanta Hawks, in a game that led coach Mike Woodson to say it was like his team was "not even trying right now"; to the New Orleans Pelicans, despite star Anthony Davis playing just 10 1/2 minutes and leaving with a broken hand; and to Boston, in a game that completely erased any momentum from the previous two wins and has the team and its fans right back on the brink of a meltdown.
There is, however, some good news — the Knicks don't have to wear the orange uniforms anymore, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post:
If he wishes, the eccentric [owner James] Dolan can forever shelve those new alternate orange jerseys after the Knicks fell to 0-6 in the uniforms [...] According to an NBA official, the Knicks have now fulfilled the minimum requirement for the number of times they have to wear the brand new, all-orange jerseys that appear as haunted as Halloween.
The NBA official told The Post the Knicks can wear the uniforms a maximum of 18 times this season and no fewer than six times under league rules.
The orange unis became an issue before Friday’s game against Orlando. Originally, the orange jerseys were placed in the Knicks’ lockers, but were eventually replaced by the traditional whites. When Raymond Felton saw the color change to white Friday, he said jokingly his "complaint" was heeded. [...]
"It was a little joke two days ago," Felton said. “Nothing to joke about now. I’m not in a joking mood. I’m not superstitious about anything. You play in whatever you play in, whatever jersey color, whatever shoes." [...]
"I’m not a superstitious guy," Anthony said. "I won’t blame [the Boston loss] on the 12’oclock game. I won’t blame it on the orange jerseys. We could’ve lost in the white uniforms today."
That's the spirit, 'Melo!
Anthony, Felton and all those noting that the Knicks' woes owe more to a variety of individual and team failures than to a certain color shirt are surely right, but it is still kind of remarkable just how bad New York has been when clad in orange.
The Knicks have have outscored opponents by 33 points when wearing white or blue this season, and have been outscored by 106 points while wearing orange. As a team, they're averaging 96.9 points per game and 44.3 percent shooting in non-orange games; those numbers drop by seven points per game and 5 percentage points in orange. They've allowed 94.4 points per game on 43.8 percent shooting in white and blue, and a whopping 106.3 per contest on 50 percent shooting in orange.
Anthony's averaging 27.2 points per game on 45 percent shooting in the 10 games in which he has not worn the alternates, and 20.8 points per game on 38.4 percent shooting in orange. (Which seems especially weird, all things considered.) Felton's averaging 12.4 points on 45.1 percent shooting in non-orange garb, compared with 7.8 points on 30 percent shooting in the alternates; his 3-point accuracy has dropped by about 10 points, too. J.R. Smith's shooting percentage is nearly 20 percent higher (up from 20.9 percent to 40 percent), and his 3-point percentage nearly 15 percent higher (from 22.7 percent to 37.1 percent) when he's not wearing orange. Other Knicks regulars have experienced similar drop-offs; it's kind of remarkable.
Again, black/orange magic isn't the only explanation for the stark difference — as Scott Cacciola of the New York Times notes, "their performance against the Celtics probably had more to do with an inability to play any semblance of cohesive team basketball." And the Knicks players eagerly took responsibility for the disastrous performance, preferring to blame themselves rather than Woodson, a noon tip or particular shades of fabric, though plenty of credit certainly belongs to the guys wearing green. But as the search for all-too-elusive answers stretches hits the 20-game mark, it probably couldn't hurt for the Knicks to decide to shelve the orange unis; if nothing else, it's an awful lot easier than actually doing something about all the losing.
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