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In season of tumult, Knicks try to stay hopeful

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MIAMI (AP)

Something got spilled near where the New York Knicks' bus was parked Thursday morning, which seemed to serve as a perfect microcosm of their season to date.

Wherever they go, a mess follows.

From J.R. Smith being suspended to start the season to Raymond Felton now facing gun charges, the Knicks are on pace for the biggest one-year freefall in franchise history. And with Carmelo Anthony having the option to leave this summer, plus Mike Woodson's future seemingly in jeopardy, New York might have a new look very soon unless things change quickly.

''In the little time you get to yourself you try to reflect on everything, but it's hard,'' Anthony said Thursday before the Knicks lost their fourth straight, 108-82 to the Miami Heat. ''At this point, we're rolling with the punches, man. I was laughing with somebody and saying it's Murphy's Law. Anything that can go wrong is going wrong for us at this point. All that stuff, with all that said, we've still got to play basketball.''

Now in his 10th season, Anthony has never missed the playoffs.

If the Knicks don't start playing good basketball, and fast, that streak will end in about six weeks.

''All of these games are very critical,'' Anthony said. ''We've got to approach these games, I don't want to say life or death situation, but it is what it is. These are games that we've got to try to win.''

The Knicks are in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, 5-1/2 games out of the eighth and final postseason spot. A team that won 54 games last season is on pace to win just 30 this season, a 24-victory difference. If that holds up, it'll be the largest one-year dip in terms of winning percentage that the Knicks have ever endured.

''It has been an up and down year, sure,'' Woodson said. ''I think about it all the time. But there's sometimes that you can't control. You can't control injuries, you can't control J.R.'s suspension at the beginning of the year. It's been a lot. But again, mathematically we're still in the hunt and that's what I'm hanging my hat on.''

Calling it an ''up and down'' year might be a stretch. Woodson's team won its first game, and hasn't had a winning record since. By the start of December, the Knicks were 10 games under .500. They had a five-game winning streak in early January, then a four-game streak later in the month.

In all other games, they're 12-37.

And then the Felton matter simply adds a new challenge, a big one at that.

Hours after Dirk Nowitzki got a buzzer-beater to fall that lifted Dallas past the Knicks on Monday night, Felton was arrested on felony weapons charges. He should be able to be with the Knicks for the rest of the season, considering he's not due in court again until June 2.

Felton was smiling and laughing with teammates as they prepared for their gameday shootaround practice in Miami on Thursday, and has said his personal situation - he's also going through a divorce, and authorities said it was his estranged wife who turned a loaded semi-automatic handgun allegedly owned by Felton into police - will not be a distraction to the team.

''It can definitely be a distraction,'' Anthony said, ''if you allow it to be.''

Added Woodson: ''We're here to support him. ... We can't go back and undo what's been done.''

The same sort of thinking applies to the Knicks' season so far. It's why, at least outwardly, Woodson and Anthony still seem to have some hope.

''I just wish our season would have been better,'' Woodson said. ''We can still salvage something out of this season by getting this team in the playoffs. If that happens, then you start another season and anything is possible.''

Tagged: Knicks, Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton

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