Game Preview: Knicks at Celtics
The New York Knicks' latest loss came without some key players. As their losing streak wears on regardless of personnel, just how key those players are might be up for debate.
Whoever is on the court Friday night in Boston will be charged with halting the skid before it reaches levels not seen by the franchise in 30 years, while the Celtics are chasing a fourth straight home victory.
After falling 109-95 Wednesday night in San Antonio without Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith against the even more short-handed Spurs, New York (4-20) is now trying to avoid an 11th straight loss and 12th in a row on the road.
"Everybody's impacted by it," coach Derek Fisher said. "But you must take something from it and learn something from it if you want it to change. That's what we have to do right now. We have to take our lumps, accept what it is at this moment, but not necessarily accept that it's going to stay that way."
The Knicks haven't lost 11 straight in a single season since closing 1984-85 on a 12-game skid before extending it eight more games the following season. Across multiple seasons, they last lost 11 straight in 1987 - six at the end of '86-87 and five to start the next season. Their most recent 12-game road skid came in 2005-06.
Perhaps more humbling is that a loss Friday coupled with a Philadelphia win at Brooklyn would send the Knicks to the bottom of the Atlantic Division even though the 76ers lost their first 17 games of the season - one shy of the NBA record.
Anthony sat after experiencing soreness in his left knee in Tuesday night's loss at New Orleans, while Smith was a late scratch with a sore heel. Anthony is seeking answers on his ailing knee and isn't yet considering surgery.
"It's just a matter of trying to get to the bottom of it and see what's really the problem," Anthony said. "What I'm hearing is it won't get any worse but it won't get any better, so it's just a matter of how much pain I can take while I'm out there playing."
Among those on the court, Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 23 points on 9-for-18 shooting.
Boston (7-13) returns home from losses at Washington on Monday and Wednesday in Charlotte, but a potentially favorable schedule awaits. After hosting New York, the Celtics head to Philadelphia before welcoming Orlando and Minnesota to Boston.
To make good use of that, the Celtics might need to get back to a stretch of impressive 3-point shooting that led to some success. They were just 5 of 23 against the Hornets after shooting 44.6 percent over a 3-2 stretch to begin the month.
Jared Sullinger has led that charge with a 46.2 percent (24 of 52) mark over his last 13 games. For the season, he's shooting 37.1 percent after entering with a 26.8 career mark. It's been enough for his teammates to urge him to put up more long-range shots.
"I think it was one game where I caught the ball at the top of the key and I was like semi-open and I passed it up," Sullinger told the team's official website. "And (Rajon) Rondo came up to me and was like, 'Sully, shoot the ball!'"
Rondo had his third triple-double of the season against the Hornets with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. His 6-of-11 performance from the field was the most encouraging stat line after he shot 26.1 percent over his previous seven games.