The Knicks and D'Antoni are still seeking a winning formula

JAIME C. HARRIS Special to the AmNews | 3/9/2012, 12:13 p.m.
The Knicks and D'Antoni are still seeking a winning formula

Will the sum eventually equal the parts?

This question will continue to be widely discussed regarding the Knicks. Heading into San Antonio last night (Wednesday) to face the Spurs, they were 18-20 following losses on Sunday and Tuesday to the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks, respectively, on the road. The Knicks will complete their four-game, six-day road trip tomorrow (Friday) against the Milwaukee Bucks and return to Madison Square Garden on Sunday (12 p.m.) to meet the Philadelphia 76ers, the team they are chasing in the Atlantic Division.

"It's March," said Amar'e Stoudemire after scoring 26 points versus the Mavericks. "It's time to settle down."

If only it was that simple. Evidently, the Knicks have a talented and deep roster, one that is potentially capable of being the third best team in the Eastern Conference. Assessing them purely on individual ability, the Knicks do not have to prostrate themselves to the Chicago Bulls or the Miami Heat, the top two teams in the conference.

Analyzing each team player by player, the Knicks are arguably better stocked than the Bulls and logically should be able to contend with the Heat. However, the Bulls and Heat have a formula for success while the Knicks are still trying to learn how to beat the league's superior teams. Check that, they have yet to master bettering fading, aging squads such as the Celtics consistently.

The deflating 115-111 overtime loss to the Celtics last weekend underscored how much the Knicks must improve collectively before they can be viewed as an upper-tier team, and the progress must primarily take place from the neck up, including the coaching staff.

Mike D'Antoni's reluctance to have his charges foul Paul Pierce before he could get off a game-tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation was as egregious as the Knicks' 22 turnovers, opposing arguments be dammed. How many times--please reference the Knicks' opening round playoff series last season against the Celtics in which Ray Allen also buried a 3-point dagger in Game 1--does D'Antoni have to get burned before he stops playing with fire?

The Knicks can be very good. The prevailing question is, will they be?