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Magic 111, Knicks 99: Fourth-Quarter Futility Dooms Knicks Again

Once again, a bad fourth quarter sent the New York Knicks to a loss. Wednesday night’s 11-99 loss to the Orlando Magic sent New York below the .500-mark, having lost seven out of their past eight games. The Knicks had no answer for Dwight Howard, trying several different defenders on the star center; but when among those choices are Shawne Williams and Ronny Turiaf, problems will ensue more often than not. Howard scored 33 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while his main big-man counterpart Amare Stoudemire had one of his worst games of the season for the Knicks. Stoudemire scored just 13 points, and made a paltry six of his 20 shot attempts.

However, the Knicks looked good in the first half, holding a four point lead after the interval. A back and forth third quarter saw the MAgic regain a one point advantage heading into the final stanza, a place these Knicks have been playing their worst basketball recently. That trend continued Wednesday, as the Knicks allowed 32 points over the final 12 minutes while scoring just 21 points themselves, converting six field goals. The Magic ran away with the game, handing the Knicks their 36th loss of the season, to go with just 35 wins. A sub-.500 record at any point this season seemed impossible after the Carmelo Anthony trade, but that’s exactly where the Knicks find themselves this morning.

Everyone knows the Knicks are going to need time to gel. They overhauled half their roster before the trade deadline to acquire Anthony. It was the right thing to do. Anthony is a top notch NBA star. In the NBA , you have always needed stars to win. Yet it’s very concerning the way the Knicks have played over the past eight games. Amare Stoudemire looks tired; Chauncey Billups still appears to be hurt, and is taking a lot more of the "big shots" than he is actually making, and Anthony has yet to truly burst out and have one of those signature scoring nights that we’re accustomed to seeing from him.

But is this all that shocking? A quick look at how the Knicks are constructed says that this may have been what was to be expected for the rest of this season. Aside from having the worst defensive head coach in the league, the Knicks simply don’t have NBA-level size. The tallest player they can put out on the floor is Jared Jeffries. The most rugged is Turiaf, an undersized center. Williams is a small forward masquerading as a power forward, and it’s laughable when Mike D’Antoni has him guard centers like Howard.

For this season, the Knicks will have to make do with what they have, and it isn’t much. When they acquired Anthony, and rattled off a big win against the Miami Heat, many envisioned a Knick team that no one in the East wanted to draw in the first round. Now, when you look at the Knicks’ potential first round matchups, is there any doubt that the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls or Heat wouldn’t sign up for the Knicks? These 2011 Knicks aren’t built to win in the playoffs. And it’s become ever so likely, given their recent stretch, that their postseason will not last very long.

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