Knicks-Nets renew rivalry of struggling teams

NEW YORK -- On one side of the East River, the New York Knicks frequently infuriate fans with disappointing performances.

On the other side, the Brooklyn Nets are paying the price for moves that did not work and are engaged in a massive rebuilding.

This is the state of pro basketball in New York City and it's on display Wednesday night when the Knicks visit the Nets.

The Knicks (21-29) are on course to miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season and 12th time in 17 campaigns since trading Patrick Ewing in September 2000. Back then, the Knicks traded their franchise icon for players and contracts who crippled the salary cap situation.

And now comes rumors of another star being dealt in Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks are nearing the six-year anniversary of obtaining Anthony from the Denver Nuggets but in recent weeks talk about Anthony's future has swirled around the star forward, who reportedly would only waive his no-trade clause to join the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers or Boston Celtics.

The talk and speculation stems from his relationship with Phil Jackson, who became team president in March 2014. One of Jackson's first orders of business was re-signing Anthony and giving him a no-trade clause.

The relationship has always been tenuous but things picked up steam when Jackson's confidant Charley Rosen criticized Anthony in an article. Anthony was forced to deal with the story and it resulted in a meeting with Jackson.

New York began the season with a promising 16-13 record through Dec. 22. Starting with a Christmas Day home loss to the Boston Celtics, the Knicks are 5-16, which is a similar skid that derailed a respectable 22-22 start last season.

The Knicks are 3-8 on the road in this skid and Tuesday's 117-101 loss at Washington marked the 19th time they allowed 100 points in the last 21 games.

Anthony scored 26 and Brandon Jennings added 21 but the Knicks shot 36.6 percent -- their second-lowest shooting percentage of the season.

"Goodbye, January," Anthony said. "You got to find it every night. You got to dig deep and find it. Find energy every night. Even when you don't have it you got to find it."

The Knicks also allowed the Wizards to shoot 55.7 percent and it was their worst percentage allowed. It also was New York's ninth time allowing an opponent to shoot 50 percent or better -- the Knicks are 1-8 in those games -- and compounding the problem was the 62 points Washington scored in the paint.

"We just didn't look like we had energy," Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said.

New York also played shorthanded as Kristaps Porzingis was a late scratch because of illness and Derrick Rose missed his second straight game with an ankle injury. While Porzingis may not play Wednesday, Rose will likely miss his ninth game of the season and the Knicks are 1-7 when he does not play.

The Nets are in their first full year of rebuilding as they approach the one-year anniversary of Sean Marks becoming general manager. Marks was brought in to replace Billy King, who traded multiple first-round picks to the Boston Celtics for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in 2013.

The deal resulted in the Nets getting a year of Pierce and a year and a half of Garnett to go along with five playoff wins.

Now barring a massive turnaround, the Nets will be the league's worst team. In any other year it would put them in position for the top overall pick but this year the Celtics stand to benefit.

The Nets are on a six-game losing streak and it is their third skid of at least that long this season.

Brooklyn stopped an 11-game losing streak Jan. 20 at New Orleans but during its latest slide, teams are scoring 115 points against the Nets and shooting 49.2 percent.

The Nets allowed 100 points for the 24th straight game in a 104-96 loss Monday when the Miami Heat.

The point total represented a slight improvement but it came on a night when the offense misfired, especially after getting a 50-39 lead. The Nets shot 42.6 percent and a season-low 15.4 percent from 3-point range.

"The energy was better, we were better defensively. We didn't make enough shots, didn't shoot it well," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said.

Bojan Bogdanovic led the Nets with 16 points but Brook Lopez was held to 14 points and shot 5 of 17.

"I'm very disappointed in myself," Lopez said. I don't think I went out there and put my best foot forward. I hurt our team a lot. I need to be better. I can't have nights like this, and I have to have better focus, be more aggressive and be the player I know I can be."

The Nets held a double-digit in the first meeting Nov. 9 in New York but the Knicks wound up with a 110-96 victory. The Nets held Porzingis to 11 of 32 shooting in taking both home meetings last year as Lopez scored 53 points in those games.

Since the Nets relocated from New Jersey in 2012, they have a 9-8 edge in the series and are 5-3 at home.