The New York Knicks matched their season-high eight-game losing streak by wasting a comfortable lead and falling in overtime to the reigning NBA champions.
Now, they hope a meeting Saturday with the injury-riddled Milwaukee Bucks can help them avoid their longest slide in almost two years.
The Knicks (14-36) squandered an 18-point, third-quarter lead at home to lose 99-93 in overtime to San Antonio on Friday. New York missed all seven of its overtime field-goal attempts en route to equaling its eight-game skid from Nov. 9-21.
"It shows you why they're champions," said Knicks power forward Zach Randolph, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds. "One of the toughest losses ... it's really depressing."
The Knicks haven't dropped nine in a row since March 19-April 4, 2006.
"You have to sometimes learn difficult lessons in this league," coach Isiah Thomas said. "The other night I talked about know-how and I thought their experience, they knew how to win the basketball game, knew what to do, and we'll get there."
Jamal Crawford, New York's leader with 20.0 points per game, had 24-points and eight assists in the loss to the Spurs. The guard had 25 points in the Knicks' 91-88 home win over the Bucks (19-31) on Nov. 30.
That win was New York's third straight against Milwaukee and fourth in the last five matchups between the teams.
The Knicks hope to have swingman Quentin Richardson and key reserve guard Nate Robinson available after the duo sat out Friday's loss. Richardson has missed two games due to a sprained right ankle, while Robinson is struggling with an upper respiratory infection.
The Bucks, who are opening a four-game homestand, are dealing with their own injury problems, missing Michael Redd (strained left knee), Yi Jianlian (strained right shoulder), Bobby Simmons (bruised left leg) and Awvee Storey (flulike symptoms) recently.
Redd, the Bucks' leader with 23.0 points per game, could return Saturday after missing six consecutive games. He had 27 points in the last meeting with the Knicks.
All four of the injured Bucks missed Wednesday's 107-96 loss at Dallas, the team's fourth defeat in the last five games.
"We had nine people, what can you say?" Bucks point guard Mo Williams said of his team's short bench. "We battled. It was a great effort. A play here or there determined the outcome, but that's how the road treats you sometimes."
Williams, second on the team with 17.3 points per game and first with 6.6 assists, is doing his best to pick up some of the scoring slack. He had a season-high 36 points - 28 in the first half - against the Mavericks after scoring 32 in a 102-97 win at Memphis on Tuesday.
"A couple of 30-point games, and playing with a lot of confidence, he's difficult to handle in pick and roll coverage," Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak said.
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