CLEVELAND — Before the season started, David Fizdale prepared himself for what was likely ahead of him.
“I came into it expecting the worst,” the New York Knicks coach said Monday. “And preparing myself for the absolute worst.”
That’s a good thing, because that’s pretty much what’s happened.
Fizdale’s Knicks have lost 17 straight games, a franchise record that was sealed with Monday night’s 107-104 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena.
They’ve lost 25 of their last 26 games and 30 of their last 32.
They haven’t won a game since beating the Los Angeles Lakers back on Jan. 4, which came while LeBron James was out with a groin injury.
The Knicks, who own the worst record in the NBA at 10-46, are reeling.
“A loss is a loss is a loss,” Fizdale said after his team fell to the Cavs, who own the third-worst record in the NBA. “Right now all we’re focused on is getting better for the next game and trying to win the next game. Again, the beauty of our team, they’re not caught up in all that. They’re going to keep trying to find a way back into games, back into a way to compete to win and at some point we’ll break and get our win.”
The Knicks trailed Cleveland by 17 points before staging a late comeback. They had a chance to tie it on their last possession. Fizdale drew up a play out of a timeout to get John Jenkins, who was making his debut after signing a 10-day contract, the final shot.
Jenkins got a good look, but the shot didn’t fall.
“I thought it was good,”‘ Jenkins said. “But it happens sometimes.”
In the end, it was just another loss.
“It’s not getting to me,” Fizdale said. “I’m not letting it get to me. I’m in here every day just trying to get these guys better. And I won’t let them focus on it either. Some of those guys don’t have anything to do with that streak. We’re just focused on our improvement and getting a win where we can get it.
Where can the Knicks get a win?
They play the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night at the Garden, and the Sixers feature one of the best starting lineups in the NBA after their deadline acquisition of Tobias Harris.
Then they go to Atlanta to play a Hawks team that’s also had a rough season, but with 18 wins still have a better record than the Knicks.
After that, the Knicks will have a week off for the All-Star break.
Losing for the lottery?
For years, it would’ve benefited the Knicks to be this bad, historically bad. Not anymore.
Not after the NBA revamped the lottery rules, giving the bottom three teams an equal 14 percent chance at landing the No. 1 overall pick.
As they currently stand, the Knicks have a 47.9 percent chance at falling to the fifth pick.
So “tanking” really doesn’t help all that much. Although Fizdale and his players want no part of that word anyway.
“Yeah, a lot of fans, they always say some dumb stuff,” rookie Kevin Knox said. “You see it all the time with the tanking and want us to lose, stuff like that. It’s kind of stupid. They’re not really true New Yorkers. Real Knicks fans know that we’re trying to just take this year to kind of just develop us young guys and then next year hopefully make a push.”
Hope for the future is all the Knicks have right now. They insist they’re sticking to a plan, believing brighter days are ahead.
Maybe it really does involve Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, or even Zion Williamson.
Maybe that really does end up happening. In the meantime, the present is pretty ugly.
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Published 5:51 PM EST Feb 12, 2019