A sick feeling is emanating through the New York Knicks.
The offense is struggling, their playoff hopes teetering and key players are missing practice.
That’s not how coach Mike Woodson intended to spend Sunday afternoon following an abysmal Game 3 performance that left the Knicks in a 2-1 hole and in a precarious position heading into Tuesday night’s game at Indiana. Two of his top players — guard J.R. Smith and forward Kenyon Martin — didn’t even make it to the workout because they were ill.
“We’ve got to be careful that this thing doesn’t spread and other guys start dropping so we kept them back at the hotel,” Woodson said.
There’s no telling if either player will return in time to make an impact in Game 4, which has become essential for the Knicks to keep their playoff drive alive.
On Saturday, New York made just 35.2 percent from the field and its vaunted 3-point shooting vanished as they went 3 of 11 from beyond the arc. The result was a stinging 82-71 loss in which the Knicks flirted with a franchise-record scoring low. The record is 67. New York didn’t top that until Martin’s dunk with 1:39 left in a game that had already been decided.
NBA scoring champ Carmelo Anthony finished with a team-high 21 points but managed only two of those points in the fourth quarter, when he was 0 of 3 from the field.
Smith, the NBA’s top sixth man, played just hours after spiking a 102-degree fever that nearly kept him out. He wound up making just 4 of 12 shots to actually improve his shooting percentage in the first three games. He’s 11 of 42 from the field in the series.
Woodson used Martin as one of the defenders against Pacers center Roy Hibbert, but Hibbert finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds against a full complement of seemingly healthy big men from New York.
Now for the second time in a week, Woodson and his players are trying to figure out how to counter Indiana’s tough, stingy defense.
“I watched the tape myself and there’s open looks,” center Tyson Chandler said. “You have to sacrifice yourself sometimes for the betterment of the team. I think we need to do a better job of allowing the game to dictate who takes the shots. You get in a situation where you want to take over the game or you want to make a big shot where you have to stick to the game plan.”