NEW YORK -- Late Sunday night, there was a Bible passage scribbled on the white board in the New York Knicks' locker room:
The pain that you have been feeling can't compare to the joy that's coming -- Romans 8:18
It was a nice touch for a team that needed something positive to latch on to, but it's getting harder and harder to see any joy coming out of this Knicks season.
New York lost its eighth straight game on Sunday to fall to 4-18 on the season -– the worst start through 22 games in franchise history.
"It's a tough situation right now," Carmelo Anthony said after the Knicks' loss to the Portland Trailblazers. "I've never been in a situation like this."
Anthony was talking about the way in which the Knicks have lost games lately.
Seven of New York's past eight losses have been by seven points or less. In their past five losses, the Knicks have been within one score of the opposition with less than five minutes to play.
"We're not that far away," Anthony said. "We just got to fix a couple of things -- whatever that may be."
Coach Derek Fisher knows one thing that's ailing the Knicks: a creeping doubt in the triangle offense.
"I think there still is some doubt that we can do this the way we're working on doing it," he said before Sunday's game. "When the pressure goes up, the stress goes up, the tendency to revert to old habits and not sticking with what you're developing now [happens]. It's understandable to be that way, but we just have to continue to stretch out the amount of time that we believe in what we're doing."
Fisher also believes his players are having trouble trusting the system.
He says they need to "trust that the things we work on every day ... will work in good times and bad times."
Unfortunately for Fisher, the bad times just keep coming for the Knicks.
The club owns the third-worst record in the NBA. They have as many losses as the Philadelphia 76ers (2-18), who are believed to be losing games intentionally to be inline for a high draft pick. Anthony's worried that all of the early-season defeats have hurt the team's confidence.
"We have to be more confident," Anthony said. "I don't think [confident] in the system but within ourselves as individuals and as a team."
The Knicks didn't seem to lack confidence midway through the fourth quarter on Sunday. They outscored Portland 18-6 in a span of 4:17 to wipe away a 10-point deficit and take a two-point lead with 3:33 to play. But New York missed four of its last five shots and allowed LaMarcus Aldridge to reel off six points in a span of 1:28 to seal another loss.
"Just have to find a way to get stops," Iman Shumpert said.
They also have to find a way to get to the free-throw line.
The Knicks made five more field goals than Portland on Sunday but were outrebounded by 12 on the offensive glass and shot 15 fewer free throws than the Blazers. That's become a familiar script for this team: They entered play Sunday ranked 20th in rebounding differential and 30th in free-throw differential. Not good.
Still, amid all of the mistakes and mounting losses, Anthony is trying to see the positive.
"You look at our record you might say that we're far far away," Anthony said. "But we're not that far away."
Sure. Not that far away from the Sixers.
Question: Why do you think the Knicks are struggling in close games? Are they doubting the system?
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