From their alarming defensive lapses, to Raymond Felton's absence and to the return of Amar'e Stoudemire possibly screwing up Carmelo Anthony's MVP bid, the Knicks find themselves in their first great crisis of the season.

What to do?

Maybe Gregg Popovich can help. Maybe Pop will be nice enough before Thursday night's Knicks-Spurs game and send Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green back to San Antonio, instead of having them take the floor at the Garden.

We can think of a precedent here. It is San Antonio's fourth game in five nights, the same scenario that saw Pop infuriate David Stern when the Spurs VP-coach sent his best players home, rather than have them play in Miami in a TNT game in November.

But this time, the Spurs' celebrated trio of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili will probably volunteer for major minutes. When the Knicks posted their biggest win of the season, it came in San Antonio, as Felton embarrassed Parker in a highlight game.

But that was a long time ago — Nov. 15 — and the Knicks' defense has gone south since then.

"Everybody that is playing on that perimeter, we've got to start taking a little more pride in guarding that dad-gum basketball," Mike Woodson said Wednesday.

The timing couldn't be worse for Jason Kidd and the Knicks. Woodson's club wasn't just torched by Damian Lillard, who is walking away with the Rookie of the Year award when Anthony Davis was supposed to be the greatest thing out of New Orleans since gumbo. By capping his five-star effort with the game-icing three-pointer in the final half minute, Lillard made a statement.

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