Coach Larry Brown must be asking himself if things could get any worse.
Brown and assistant coach Herb Williams held a closed-door meeting with their team after New York, which is tied with Charlotte for the fewest wins in the league, lost 96-83 to New Jersey on Wednesday night.
“As a coach, you have a responsibility to have your team play better,” said Brown, in his first year with the Knicks. “Obviously, watching this tonight, we’re not playing better. I want to play guys who show desire to win and desire to compete. That’s what Herb talked about after the game. As coaches, you can’t be out there begging guys to compete and to have a will to win.”
Already beset by injuries, the Knicks lost Maurice Taylor to a bruised knee in the second quarter and Malik Rose left in the third quarter after being dazed following a pick. New York has used 29 starting lineups this season and is 0-7 without injured point guard Stephon Marbury, who leads the team with 18.1 points per contest.
“Everybody counts how many lineups we’ve had, but every day when I go into the dressing room I don’t know who’s going to be healthy and that impacts the lineup,” Brown said.
Marbury is out with a shoulder problem and the Knicks are uncertain when he’ll return.
Jalen Rose had 22 points Wednesday in his third game with New York, but no other starter managed to score in double figures for the Knicks, who were held below 100 points for the fifth straight game.
“Any time a coach addresses a team after a loss like this, it’s disappointing,” center Eddy Curry said. “We’ve got to leave the coaching to them and the effort is up to us. The bad part is, we’ve heard this before.”
The Knicks have had two seven-game losing streaks, a six-game slide and a five-game skid this season.
Paul, still bothered by a sore lower back, bruised his ribs in a collision with Nick Collison in the second quarter and is expected to miss Friday’s contest.
“I don’t think Chris will play tomorrow,” New Orleans coach Byron Scott said Thursday. “I would love to just let him relax for the next two games and see how he feels for Monday (against Washington).
“Right now, I think he’s still pretty banged up. I know how bad he wants to play, but I don’t think it would be in his best interests to play the next two games at least.”
Claxton sustained a mild concussion against the SuperSonics, but is expected to start in Paul’s place.
“It shows the character of this team,” said Mason, who had 15 points. “I think we’re getting more confidence in ourselves. It shows we have grown as a basketball team.”
Snyder responded to the move with 16 points and a career-high 12 assists.