On their first game of a Southwestern road trip, the Knicks just couldn't break out of their slump. They simply couldn't match the effort and superior execution of the Rockets. Scorers like Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola repeatedly sank tough shots over a Knick defense that, for all its extra practice hours, still couldn't close out or force turnovers. The Rockets earned plenty of open shots, but also scored from tight corners to keep their distance on the Knicks.
Amar'e Stoudemire, meanwhile, got straight-up shut down by Chuck Hayes, who harassed him into five turnovers while granting him just six free throws With Amar'e handcuffed, other Knicks needed to step up, but it just didn't happen. Raymond Felton continued to slump, shooting just 5-14. Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari both misfired from the perimeter and rimmed out manageable inside attempts. Whether they were irritated by the stingy Houston defense, or perhaps by the ever-changing Carmelo Anthony rumors, the two wings just looked out of sorts all evening.
The Knicks have now lost four straight with a back-to-back in San Antonio and Oklahoma City coming up next. They desperately need to buck recent trends if they wish to erase the shaky start to this road trip.
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