In their heyday, the New York Knicks made Madison Square Garden a house of horrors for opponents. Now, it’s just a comedy of errors.
The Knicks will try to end the worst stretch in franchise history by beating the Houston Rockets for just the second time in a decade Thursday night.
Willis Reed and Walt Frazier are long gone. Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason won’t be on the court at MSG, either.
The Knicks would be lucky to have Carmelo Anthony.
The days of defending the court in the Big Apple with rugged, intimidating defense combined with slick passing and great shooting are over, at least until maybe next season.
As recently as two seasons ago, New York was a force at the Garden with a 31-10 record while winning the Atlantic Division.
Now, the organization is more concerned with victory in the draft lottery as part of its latest rebuilding process, this time under president and former Knicks defensive stalwart Phil Jackson.
The Knicks (5-33) own the worst record in the NBA and have dropped 15 of 18 at home, including a franchise-record 10 in a row while averaging 87.9 points.
The venue hasn’t made much of a difference, with New York losing 13 straight to surpass the single-season franchise record set at the end of the 1984-85 season.
The Knicks followed that by losing eight in a row to start 1985-86 for a team-record 20-game slide – a mark that seems in jeopardy.
"We can’t get caught up in the history and record and number of games," first-year coach Derek Fisher said, "and so we’re coming out and trying to win one game, and we’re supposed to celebrate because we broke a streak? No. That’s not who we’re going to be."
There was nothing to celebrate as the Knicks never led in Wednesday’s 101-91 loss at Washington, falling to 0-8 without Anthony (sore left knee).
Anthony has missed four straight games and is reportedly expected to sit out two more, leaving New York without its top scorer at 23.9 points per contest.
Forward Amare Stoudemire (sore right knee) is also out, so the Knicks’ biggest offensive threat is Tim Hardaway Jr., who averages 11.0 points.
He scored seven Wednesday, making 3 of 10 from the floor while missing all three attempts from 3-point range. He’s hit 4 of 11 field goals to total 14 points in three meetings with Houston, scoring five in a 91-86 road defeat Nov. 24 as New York’s losing streak in the series reached 10.
The Knicks have lost 18 of 19 matchups with the Rockets.
Houston (24-11) ended a three-game road losing streak Wednesday, beating Cleveland 105-93 behind Dwight Howard’s 17 points and 19 rebounds – 12 in the second half.
"We challenged him to rebound and he got every one of them," coach Kevin McHale said. "If we missed it, he got it. If they missed it, he got it. That’s a good combination for us."
Howard missed the last meeting with the Knicks due to a knee injury, but James Harden picked up the slack with 36 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Harden averaged 34.0 points, 7.2 boards and 5.2 assists in his last five meetings with New York.