Playing in America’s largest city has done little to aid the New York Knicks’ miserable play. Perhaps a trip across the pond can change their fortunes.
The Knicks will wrap up a dismal first half Thursday in London against the surprising Milwaukee Bucks.
New York (5-35) fell 110-82 to visiting Charlotte on Saturday to extend its franchise-worst losing streak to 15. The Knicks have dropped 25 of 26 and are near the bottom of the NBA with 92.9 points per game.
Their .125 winning percentage has them on pace to finish with the worst record in team history ahead of the 1962-63 squad that went 21-59 (.263). New York, after starting 2-1, could also become the only team in NBA history to finish with fewer than 15 wins after being above .500 at any point during the season.
"In anticipating that we were going to be better, that we were giving hope to our fans that maybe there was a possible playoff opportunity here, that goes on me,” president of basketball operations Phil Jackson said.
Carmelo Anthony is expected to play Thursday after missing the last six games with an ailing knee. The Knicks are 0-10 this season without Anthony, who is averaging 23.9 points.
Milwaukee (20-19) took advantage of the Anthony-less Knicks in a 95-82 win in New York on Jan. 4. Including that victory, the Bucks had won five of seven overall and five in a row on the road prior to Saturday’s 95-87 loss at Chicago.
"We’re one game over .500," swingman Jared Dudley told Milwaukee’s official website. "And even though (New York) is struggling, we’re trying to get into the playoffs. This is a big game for us."
Point guard Brandon Knight has averaged 20.1 points over the last seven contests and leads the Bucks with 1.4 steals per game, spearheading a defense that ranks in the top 10 in the league with an average of 97.7 points allowed.
Knight faced off with the Knicks at the O2 Arena in London on Jan. 17, 2013, while playing with Detroit. New York won 102-87 as Anthony scored 26, and current Bucks coach Jason Kidd started for the Knicks.
Anthony is no stranger to playing in London. He also helped lead the United States to a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics.
"For the NBA as a whole and for our team and our organization, it’s a promotional type of game," first-year Knicks coach Derek Fisher said. "Guys will get a chance to see some of London and some of England in their spare time … but it’s still a work trip.
"We obviously want to try and win the game on Thursday, so there’s obviously a balance to it."
The Bucks, the designated home team for this game, defeated the visiting Knicks 117-113 on Nov. 18 behind 20 points from Ersan Ilyasova, who expects to play Thursday after missing the last 10 games due to a concussion.
Anthony had 26 points in the first meeting and is averaging 28.0 in 15 games against the Bucks since coming to Knicks.