Knicks hope to end slide with Houston in town

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( - The New York Knicks will try to halt a franchise-record, 13-game losing streak Thursday, but it won't be easy with the Houston Rockets coming to Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks' slide reached unlucky number 13 on Wednesday with a 101-91 road loss to the Washington Wizards.

A makeshift Knicks team that has seen most of its core players either sidelined or traded away lost for the 23rd time in its last 24 games. New York's previous longest slide had come to conclude the 1984-85 season.

Star Carmelo Anthony sat yet again with a sore knee and hopes to play next week. Amare Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani, two highly-compensated players, also were in suit coats with different maladies.

The Knicks traded Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith on Monday in a salary dump type of move. They received three players and a second-round pick in the deal, but released all three and also bid adieu to center Samuel Dalembert.

"It is tough, mentally, for sure," said Knicks guard Jose Calderon of the team's struggles. "It's not easy with all the changes happening to us. Teammates are going and new ones are arriving and (there's been) so many injuries as well."

Calderon paced the Knicks with 17 points Wednesday, while Jason Smith had 13 in 21 minutes before fouling out late.

The Rockets have alternated losses and wins over the last six. They'll complete a three-game road trip Thursday that featured a loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday and a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

James Harden missed 12 of his 18 shots but scored a team-high 21 points and the Rockets pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 105-93 win over the short- handed Cavs.

"It was a game where they were going to put two on the ball and take the ball out of James' hands," said Houston coach Kevin McHale. "He had nine assists. I told him this was going to be one of those nights. We stayed with it."

Dwight Howard finished with 17 points and a season-high 19 rebounds and Josh Smith scored 16 points off the bench, including seven in the fourth quarter when the Rockets outscored the Cavaliers 32-19 on the way to their third win in five games.

Corey Brewer had eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter and Trevor Ariza ended with 13 in the victory.

The Rockets beat the Knicks in Houston on Nov. 24 and have won 10 straight in this series. Houston has won four in a row in MSG and is 9-1 as the visitor versus the Knicks.