The New York Knicks need to do something to help build back their shrinking Atlantic Division lead.
Perhaps a home game against the slumping Philadelphia 76ers will help.
These divisional rivals will each try to end four-game losing streaks on Sunday night when they conclude their season series at Madison Square Garden.
After losing 97-80 at Philadelphia (22-31) on Jan. 26, the Knicks (32-20) went on a 6-1 run to build a four-game divisional lead over Brooklyn. That edge is now one game - and Boston is just 4 1/2 back - as New York has dropped five of six. The team has also fallen one game behind Central Division-leading Indiana, which routed the Knicks 125-91 on Wednesday, for second place in the Eastern Conference.
"When you lose games like this it's easy to start thinking too much, overthinking what you should do, what you shouldn't do, rather than just going out there and playing basketball,' said Carmelo Anthony, who scored 32 points, but shot 1-of-8 from 3-point range, in Friday's 100-98 loss at Toronto. "I think that's where we're at.'
The Knicks aren't getting the job done on either end of the floor during their longest skid of the season, averaging 91.3 points and giving up 104.8 per contest.
The addition of veteran Kenyon Martin, who signed a 10-day contract on Saturday, could help New York on the defensive side as the team is still without injured big men Marcus Camby (left plantar fascia) and Rasheed Wallace (sore left foot).
New York will try to prevent its first five-game skid since a six-game stretch from March 4-12.
"We've got to go home and try to get off this slide,' said coach Mike Woodson, whose team will try to avoid a season-worst third straight home loss.
Philadelphia arrives at MSG following Saturday's 114-90 home loss to East-leading Miami.
The 76ers, 3 1/2 behind eighth-place Milwaukee in the East, are winless since a 5-2 run that began Jan. 26.
"In the first half, we did a lot of things well (and trailed by nine),' said All-Star guard Jrue Holiday, who finished with 21 points on Saturday after averaging 14.0 in the previous three. "We have to sustain that for 48 minutes.'
Hitting the road might not help Philadelphia get back into the win column. The team has dropped 15 of 17 as the visitor and is on the verge of its first eight-game skid away from home since Nov. 10-Dec. 3, 2010.
The 76ers have lost four of six at New York after a 100-84 defeat in their lone visit this season on Nov. 4. The Knicks won 110-88 the following night in Philadelphia.
Holiday had career highs with 16 field goals and 35 points on Jan. 26 to raise his season average in this series to 26.3. He's also handed out 21 assists.
Anthony, second in the league with 28.4 points per game, leads the Knicks in points (73) in those three contests, and is third in rebounds (21), trailing Tyson Chandler (23) and J.R. Smith (22).
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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