NEW YORK (AP) — A team built to win a title now didn't get close.
Sure, the New York Knicks ended lengthy droughts for division titles and playoff series victories, so there were successes. But they surrounded Carmelo Anthony with players on their last NBA legs with a championship in mind, knowing the window to win one would slam shut quickly.
As Hall of Famer Earl Monroe said in April on the night they honored the 40th anniversary of their last championship squad: "This team wasn't built to be winning a championship for next year. Not when you're getting guys 38, 39, 40 years old. This is for this year."
Now it's over. It was good, but not nearly good enough.
The Knicks were eliminated Saturday by the Indiana Pacers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. It was the Knicks' first appearance in the second round since 2000, but they expected to go further.
"We all knew what was the goal that we had set," Anthony said. "Everybody wants to win a championship."
They had to settle for their first Atlantic Division title since 1994 and a 54-28 record that was their best since winning 57 games in 1996-97. Anthony won the scoring title and J.R. Smith was the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year, so Anthony wouldn't consider the season a failure.
"Overall, we had a hell of a season, hell of a year," he said. "I think we took some steps forward as a team, as an organization, to win the games that we won, 50-plus games, to win our division. To get to this point right now where we're at, we had a chance to get to the conference finals. We'll take that. It's a learning curve for us, and we'll be back better and stronger next year for sure."
Not without a change of personnel — and perhaps a change in philosophy.