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This is rock bottom.


No, this is rock bottom.


No no no...for real now: this is rock bottom.

I don't know how many times exactly I've used that phrase this year, but it's been more than a few.

Tonight against the Grizzlies, the Knicks' season reached whatever is below rock bottom. Mantle, perhaps? Liquid outer core? Or have we gone all the way to the solid inner core - the part that keeps the earth rotating on its axis, and inevitably, the Knicks mired in the same morass, year after dreadful year.

It was that level of frustration that boiled over both on the court and off of it at the end of this game, a 127-106 blowout at the hands of a team that has successfully transformed itself into what New York so desperately wanted to be this season.

The Grizzlies came into tonight a balanced mix of ultra-talented young players and a perfectly suited supporting vets, and leave with a .500 record and secure footing as the eighth seed in the Western Conference. They play fast and they play hard. A little too hard for a little too long, it turned out, as Elfrid Payton took issue with Jae Crowder taking a 3-pointer with under a minute to go and the game no longer in doubt.

Payton pushed him to the ground while he was mid-shot attempt following Crowder stealing a Julius Randle inbounds pass. What ensued was only the beginning of the night unfolding into something far worse than even the Knicks' play.

No punches were actually thrown - there was an argument amongst Knicks' beat writers as to whether the term "scuffle" or "fracas" was more appropriate - but it was ugly, with tempers rising to a point they hadn't reached all season long, and certainly not in the second half tonight, as the Knicks' defense wilted before the home fans' eyes. New York gave up 68 points in the second half, and 58 points in the paint for the game. It was bad.

By the end, the crowd had had enough as well, chanting "Sell the team" as the officials sorted out the penalties from the brewhaha (there were several technical fouls, ejections, and no doubt fines and suspensions will be dispensed in short order).

And who could blame the fans? The Knicks actually got solid performances from three of their key young players, with Mitchell Robinson, Damyean Dotson and Kevin Knox collectively joining together for an even plus/minus, but in only 77 minutes of action.

Everything else was largely infuriating, inept and indescribable to anyone wondering why a 13-36 team seems to be approaching the tail end of the season as if they were in a playoff race.

Any explanation for continuing to play veterans heavy minutes - either as a showcase, or because it gives them a better chance to win, or even to help the development of the young players - got tossed out the window on a night like tonight, when every starter was between a minus 17 and a minus 20 for the game.

Individual game to game plus / minus numbers are often deceiving, but tonight they painted a perfect picture. As has been the case many times this season, Julius Randle and Marcus Morris led the team in shots, combining for 31 attempts and making just five apiece. Few of those came within any semblance of offensive flow.

Randle, to his credit, chipped in 14 boards and six assists, although his defensive effort continues to wane with the ebbs and flows of the game.

Marcus Morris - probably New York's best player through their first 48 games - had what was undeniably his worst, ugliest night as a Knick. 

Aside from missing a dozen shots and netting four turnovers to zero assists, after the game, he uttered comments that are almost inconceivable for a player to say in 2020, using the words "female tendencies" and "woman-like" when referring to Jae Crowder's actions at the end of the night.

Not to be outdone, Elfrid Payton doubled down on how he acted as well, saying he'd do the same thing to crowder over again if he had the chance.

Both Knicks claimed the end of the game wasn't a sign of a team unraveling, and it was merely in response to what they perceived to be Crowder violating an unwritten code of the game. Morris also Tweeted an apology later on in the night for his distasteful comments:

That's all well and good. But this was yet another game that got away from the Knicks, their 14th defeat of the season by 20 points or more. And it came at home, in front of an owner who was sold an entirely different bill of goods before the season started. It would seem incongruous for everyone around not to be feeling a good deal of pressure, especially with only two games remaining before the trade deadline.

And here's the real kicker: the one saving grace for Knick fans - that the front office might be able to sell Marcus Morris for a draft pick and/or a young player before next Thursday - may have been torpedoed by his actions and comments tonight.

Indignities on top of indignities. That's how we roll.

Perhaps the best representation of what this night meant came with Mike Miller's final words of the evening, when he was asked if the fight at the end of the game was a result of all the frustration that had built up finally boiling over.


And with that, he walked away, into the abyss that has become this Knick season.

33 games left to go. 

At least it can't get any worse, right?



- Fans were chanting for Frank Ntilikina to play at one point following a six minute, four turnover stint from Dennis Smith Jr. in the first half (he actually played better after halftime). After the game, Miller said that Frank's groin acted up and he was unavailable to play. There's no word yet on whether he'll be ready to go for the next game.

- Mitchell Robinson barely missed a double double, finishing with 10 points, nine rebounds, four blocked shots, three steals and two assists. His defense was even better than those statistics indicate, and he was head and shoulders the Knicks best player against Memphis.

- Damyean Dotson also deserves mention after hitting four of five from downtown. He continues to demand more playing time.

- This was actually a game until the third quarter, when New York's starters came out of halftime defending with preseason intensity. If this was meant as a final showcase before the deadline, it didn't work.