The New York Knicks may have a new face in the starting lineup, but they are still playing like the same slumping team.
Newly acquired Steve Francis takes the court for the second time as a Knick and tries to help his team avoid its 10th straight road loss as it visits the Washington Wizards, who have not lost at home in more than a month.
New York has not lost 10 consecutive road games in a single season since a franchise-record 18-game skid from Dec. 3, 1987-Feb. 22, 1988.
Meanwhile, the Wizards look for their first nine-game home winning streak since they won 15 in a row from Feb. 9-April 7, 1989, when they were the Bullets and played in Landover, Md.
Francis, who was acquired from Orlando on Wednesday for Penny Hardaway and Trevor Ariza, had 16 points, five rebounds and four assists in his New York debut Friday, but the Knicks still lost 94-90 to the New Jersey Nets.
New York has dropped 18 of its last 20 games.
“I haven’t been able to practice,” said Francis, who averaged 16.2 points in 46 games with the Magic. “I felt like a new player who was basically thrown into the game with little experience.”
Francis’ partner in the backcourt, Stephon Marbury, continued to struggle in his second game back after missing eight with a left shoulder injury. Marbury scored just six points on 2 of 9 shooting. He has a total of 13 over the last two games.
“I just have to get my rhythm back,” said Marbury, the Knicks leading scorer with 17.6 points per game. “I had some great looks, it just didn’t go down.”
Jalen Rose scored 18 points off the bench after losing his starting spot to Francis, but seemed happy with his new teammate.
“For us to add him (Francis) to our team is only going to be a plus,” said Rose, who is averaging 16.1 points in his nine games with New York. “Then it’s just about us getting that continuity and then going out and playing and getting some wins.”
Those wins will be hard to come by as the Knicks play six of their next seven games on the road, where they’ve won just four games all season and own the NBA’s worst record.
While New York continues to slide, the Wizards are 16-7 since their Jan. 6 loss to the Knicks. Washington tied a season-high with 10 3-pointers and got another strong showing from its top trio in a 102-94 victory Friday over Cleveland.
Gilbert Arenas recorded 26 points, nine assists and five rebounds to lead the Wizards, and Antawn Jamison had 25 points and 12 rebounds. Caron Butler added 24 points, including a career-high four 3-pointers, and grabbed seven rebounds.
After allowing All-Star MVP LeBron James to score 21 points in the first half, the Wizards tightened up their defense and held him to just four free throws after intermission.
“We tried to pressure the ball, take him a little out of his game, and see if things might happen,” Arenas said. “It’s a real good win for us.”
The Knicks have won nine of their last 11 meetings with the Wizards.