While no team has struggled as badly as the winless Philadelphia 76ers, the New York Knicks haven’t been much better.
The Knicks try to stop the bleeding and add to the 76ers’ woes as these Atlantic Division foes begin their season series Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
New York (3-10) returns home after a defensively dismal two-game road trip, falling 117-113 at Milwaukee on Tuesday and 115-99 at Minnesota the following night. Carmelo Anthony had 20 points in 27 minutes Wednesday before sitting out the entire fourth quarter with the game out of reach.
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The Knicks have dropped nine of 10. Philadelphia (0-12) is the only team with fewer wins.
"I just don’t want to get used to feeling this feeling, you know, losing basketball games, games that we should be winning," said Anthony, who continues to play through a knee injury. "Just letting it slip out of our hands, regardless if it’s early in the season or not."
Defense remains a big issue, having allowed the Bucks and Timberwolves to shoot a combined 52.1 percent from the field and 20 of 39 from 3-point range. Opponents are shooting a whopping 43.3 percent from beyond the arc against the Knicks for the NBA’s second-highest mark.
New York is 0-9 when allowing more than 96 points.
"We have to figure out how we’re going to play defense as a team, as a unit. That’s where it starts," Anthony said. "We have to want it, we have to commit to it and we just have to do it."
A defensive turnaround could begin against a 76ers team that ranks last in scoring with 89.3 points per game. Philadelphia also is shooting an NBA-worst 29.7 percent from 3-point range after going 4 for 23 in Friday’s 122-96 loss to Phoenix.
Michael Carter-Williams had 18 points but finished 6 of 18 from the floor, including 0 for 4 from long distance.
"We understand that we need to win, we get that," coach Brett Brown said. "As far as phrasing it or earmarking a particular point on the calendar or a specific team, I haven’t gone there."
The 76ers are off to their worst start since opening a franchise-worst 0-15 in 1972-73, when they finished with an NBA-record 73 defeats.
"We haven’t won, so we’re not in any position to overlook any opponent," Knicks coach Derek Fisher said. "We’re fighting and scrapping hard to become better ourselves, we’re in no position to judge. Until we show up and we start winning, we can’t look down our nose at anybody."
Help could be on the way for New York with Jose Calderon expected to debut. The veteran point guard, acquired from Dallas in a six-player trade this summer, hasn’t played after aggravating a calf injury while warming up for the season opener.
"We don’t want to put too much pressure on him," Fisher said of Calderon, averaging 10.2 points and 6.8 assists over nine seasons. "Anytime you can add a good veteran presence – a guy that understands the game – it helps to be a good symbol of composure and poise and leadership out there on the floor."
New York has taken 10 of 13 from the 76ers, including three of four last season. Amare Stoudemire averaged 22.0 points on 77.1 percent shooting in those victories, and he missed a 110-106 home loss Jan. 22 due to injury.
Anthony, who finished second in the NBA with 27.4 points per game in 2013-14, averaged just 22.3 against the 76ers while shooting 38.1 percent.