New York Knicks coach Derek Fisher can't seem to win -- even when he does just that.
And he surely isn't going to apologize after a victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta Hawks.
The Knicks, the NBA's second-worst team, might have jeopardized their NBA draft lottery odds by holding off the Hawks 112-108 on Monday night. New York has won two straight -- its first time winning back-to-back games since Feb. 27-28.
"I'm sure people are upset with us," Fisher said. "But I don't think you can ever go out there and basically try and not play your best. Those two things don't go together."
With the win, the Knicks improved to 17-64 and moved into sole possession of 29th place in the NBA. If they win their regular-season finale against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday and the Philadelphia 76ers lose their final game to the Miami Heat, the Knicks would finish the season in a tie with the Sixers.
The Knicks and Sixers would then split the lottery odds, giving each team a roughly 17.7 percent chance to win the top pick.
If none of the Knicks, Sixers or Timberwolves ends up with a top-three pick via the lottery, Minnesota would select fourth because it finished with the worst record. The Knicks or Sixers would select fifth, depending on which team wins a tiebreaker determined by a random drawing overseen by the NBA.
If the Knicks lose to Philadelphia during that drawing, they would end up picking sixth in the draft.
"That has no bearing on these guys' lives and their careers and their livelihoods -- who we pick next year," Fisher said. "This is about them, and they went out and played that way."
Jason Smith, who scored 20 points in the victory against Atlanta, agreed with Fisher's assessment.
"As players, we're trying to go out there and win the last games that we have," Smith said. "We have one game left, and we're only thinking about Wednesday."
Ian Begley of ESPN.com contributed to this report.