At the bottom of their respective divisions is the place both the Knicks and Bucks will be at the break, regardless of what happens in their matchup at Madison Square Garden.
Instead, a loss in their final game before this weekend’s All-Star festivities will guarantee the Knicks of being alone in the division basement. They could go into the break tied for last place if they win Wednesday and Toronto loses to Chicago.
“Nobody in this locker room is the type of player that’s just going to give up or throw in the towel,” coach Herb Williams said after Monday’s 106-105 loss to Philadelphia. “We’re going to keep fighting no matter what.”
New York, which does not have one player headed to Denver for All-Star weekend, has lost 19 of 23 in 2005 and has gone 3-10 since Williams took over for Lenny Wilkens.
Williams’ Jan. 23 debut was spoiled by the Bucks, who won 101-96 at the Garden in the only meeting of the season between these teams.
That victory has been part of a minor turnaround for Milwaukee, which has gone 8-6 since falling a season-high 11 games under .500. The Bucks, widely expected to have a mediocre season with Michael Redd being the only standout on the roster, stand 3 1/2 games behind fourth-place Indiana in the Central Division.
Milwaukee had won three in a row before being blown out 107-83 by division-leading Detroit on Monday.
The game was the Bucks’ second straight without Redd, who is day-to-day with a sprained left index finger.
“With Michael out, our guys just couldn’t make the perimeter shots,” Bucks coach Terry Porter said.
Redd’s absence clearly would be good news for the Knicks, whose lone win in their last four games came against a Charlotte team missing top scorer and rebounder Emeka Okafor. They still needed Tim Thomas’ last-second 3-pointer to beat the expansion Bobcats 102-99.
Marbury scored 32 points Monday—his sixth 30-point performance in seven games—but missed an open jumper that would have given the Knicks a three-point lead with 5.9 seconds left.