Knicks Bid Farewell to January


“Goodbye, January.”

Those were Carmelo Anthony‘s words after this game, which was the last of a 17-game month that started with the Knicks a game under .500, and ended with them eight games under and falling out of the playoff bracket in the East.

This exhausting, frustrating and, at times, controversial month could have put in jeopardy a season that started out with so much promise. January didn’t bring a buzzsaw of top teams, but it did bring a relentless schedule that saw four back-to-backs and very little time for rest or, most importantly, practice.

The Knicks finished the month 5-12, with half of their losses coming down to a final possession.

So it was fitting that Jeff Hornacek saw his team fall in the last game of the month, which came off the longest game the franchise has seen in 65 years: the quadruple-overtime loss in Atlanta on Sunday.

“Maybe that four overtime game got us today,” Hornacek said. “It didn’t look like we had any energy. Even in the beginning of the game, when we had the lead.”

The Knicks did hold an early lead in the first quarter, but that evaporated quickly as John Wall took over with 15 points and 9 assists in the first half. The Wizards, who have won 15 straight at home, held a 59-54 lead at halftime.

The fact that the Knicks were even in the game was a credit to Melo, who had 13 of his 26 points in that half.

The game turned at the very start of the second half when the Wizards went on a 16-2 run to take a 19-point lead. The Knicks missed six of seven shots and quickly this game was a blowout.

“It was a tough night,” Hornacek said. “Every guy that went out there looked like they didn’t have great energy.”

The Knicks again played without two starters, as Derrick Rose (ankle) remained out and Kristaps Porzingis (illness) was a late scratch. Melo was the only player who produced on offense, as he shot 10-for-17 from the field. The rest of the team was 24-for-76, which is 31.5%.

A new month begins tonight — though, of course, it comes in a back-to-back situation. February has only 10 games and they’re spread out around the week-long All-Star break. After looking somewhat demoralized by what happened in January, this is a critical point of the season for this franchise.

Melo has given strong indications that he is more focused on staying in New York rather than waiving his no-trade clause to join a contender.

The Knicks (21-29) are 2 1/2 games out of the 8th spot in the East, which is hardly an insurmountable deficit with 32 games to go. But as Wally Szczerbiak pointed out last night on the postgame show, the Knicks are only two losses out of the 14th spot in the East.

The team in 15th, the Nets, host the Knicks tonight at the Barclays Center.

We’ll have the pregame coverage on Knicks Game Night at 7 p.m. on MSG Network.