The New York Knicks couldn't have imagined a much worse start to their eight-game homestand.
While the first two games were blowout losses to streaking opponents, losing to a badly struggling last-place team Wednesday night would be a new low point New York will try to avoid as it meets the Philadelphia 76ers.
The reigning Atlantic Division champion Knicks (15-26) have reached the halfway point of a season with their worst record since 2007-08.
"I didn't think we would be in this situation," said Carmelo Anthony, who has never been on a team that finished under .500. "I don't really know how to deal with situations like this. I'm learning, this is the first time for me. We gotta keep it going. We got a lot more games to play, we gotta figure it out."
New York has dropped four straight overall - all by double digits - though the first two losses were on the road and one was to league-best Indiana. The last two might not have been overly surprising, either, other than both turning into routs.
"Just the way we've been losing, that hurts," Anthony said. "We're not just losing by two, three points or four points. It's a large margin of victory."
Two nights after falling 109-95 to the Los Angeles Clippers, who ran their win streak to five, the Knicks lost 103-80 on Monday to a Brooklyn team which has won seven of eight. They shot a combined 34.4 percent - 12 of 42 by Anthony - with 37 turnovers.
Falling at home to Philadelphia would be much less excusable. The 76ers (13-28) are in the Atlantic basement with the league's third-worst record, having dropped three straight and seven of eight. They've lost all three road games in that span - none against teams with winning records - by an average of 17.0 points.
Plus, the Knicks have won eight of 10 over the Sixers, including a 102-92 road victory Jan. 11 even with Anthony held to 18 points - two off his season low.
Amare Stoudemire scored 21 off the bench, but he and fellow veteran forward Kenyon Martin won't be available. The two lopsided home losses have come since Stoudemire and Martin suffered sprained ankles at Indiana.
Pablo Prigioni did return Monday after missing 16 games with a broken toe, joining fellow point guard Raymond Felton in the starting lineup, but had two points and two assists with three turnovers. Felton has shot a combined 4 of 19 in the last two games.
"It's multiple things that have gone wrong," center Tyson Chandler said. "We've got to find better continuity on both ends of the floor, offensive and defensively."
So do the 76ers, who have shot 37.9 percent over the last three games while averaging 87.7 points, compared to 103.7 by their opponents.
Philadelphia is 8 of 57 from 3-point range (19.0 percent) in that span, including a combined 0 for 14 by Thaddeus Young and Elliot Williams.
"We gotta stop taking contested shots and try to get ourselves in the right positions at all times," Young said. "... We all know, when you're taking contested shots, the percentages go down. If we can find a way to get open looks and easier baskets, I think we'll be fine."
Leading scorer Evan Turner has averaged 9.7 points in the last three games, a span in which Williams is 1 for 16 from the field.
Rookie Michael Carter-Williams, though, was a bright spot Monday with 31 points in a 107-99 loss at Washington.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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