The misery doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon for the NBA-worst New York Knicks, who continue to get blown out with Carmelo Anthony sidelined.
While Al Jefferson remains out for the Charlotte Hornets, they’re on the verge of their longest winning streak of the season.
Looking to avoid extending their franchise-record losing streak to 15 games, the Knicks try to cool off the Hornets on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
New York (5-34) has become the laughingstock of the NBA – falling behind Philadelphia in the Atlantic despite its 0-17 start – with 24 defeats in its last 25 games, and has been outscored by an average of 13.9 points during its current skid. The Knicks’ starting five was outscored 87-26 in Thursday’s 120-96 loss to Houston, their club-worst 11th in a row at home.
Each of New York’s last seven defeats have been by double digits, a stretch during which it’s averaged 84.3 points while shooting 39.5 percent.
"It’s tough mentally, but we’ve got to be professional and just keep playing and working hard," veteran Jose Calderon said following 21 scoreless minutes.
Things won’t get any easier with Anthony still out due to a nagging sore left knee. The seven-time All-Star, who has yet to play in 2015, is hoping to return Thursday when New York faces Milwaukee in London.
Amar’e Stoudemire is also dealing with a knee injury that has sidelined him 10 of the last 11 games.
The Hornets (14-24) have climbed out of last place in the Southeast Division behind a four-game winning streak, their second such run around a five-game losing streak. They have played their last six games without Jefferson, who averages 18.0 points and 8.2 rebounds, due to a groin injury.
Kemba Walker has picked up the slack with 30.8 points per game over the last four. He stayed hot with 29 and added eight assists and seven rebounds in Thursday’s 103-95 win at Toronto.
"I’m just taking the opportunities that the defense gives me," he said. "When I see my opportunity I’m just making the play."
The Hornets are 12-6 when Walker scores at least 18 compared to 2-18 when he doesn’t.
"We’re asking a lot of him," coach Steve Clifford said of Walker, who’s averaged over 40 minutes in the last eight games. "Luckily he’s young, highly competitive and likes to play big minutes."
Walker is averaging 20.8 points over an eight-game stretch against New York. He finished with 11 on 4-of-15 shooting but scored the winning layup with one second left in a 103-102 victory Dec. 5.
Gerald Henderson also came up big with 22 points that night. He scored a season-high 31 against the Raptors and is averaging 16.9 over the last seven games, up from his season mark of 9.9.
The Knicks took this season’s first matchup against Charlotte 96-93 on Nov. 2, improving to 22-6 in the series at home since 1997-98. A repeat performance seems unlikely without Anthony and Stoudemire, who combined for nearly half that total with 45 points.
The Knicks are hoping to see more from undrafted rookie Langston Galloway, who scored 19 points against the Rockets in his second game since signing a 10-day contract.
"For Langston being new to this stage and this opportunity, I thought he tried to make the most of it," coach Derek Fisher said. "He played with the aggression that you need to be successful in this league. He’s not afraid of the moment."
The Hornets are also seeking their first four-game road winning streak since Jan. 18-28, 2011.