A difficult stretch of schedule has slowed the New York Knicks’ surprising push toward a playoff spot, and a road game against the Golden State Warriors looks a lot tougher than it did a few months ago.
The Knicks try to avoid a fifth straight loss Tuesday as two of the NBA’s highest-scoring teams meet in what’s likely to be an entertaining shootout.
New York (21-29) had started to come together recently under first-year coach Mike D’Antoni, winning six of seven going into last week. The Knicks, though, were swept on a three-game homestand by the Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland and Boston - the three best teams in the NBA.
New York opened a three-game West Coast trip Sunday with a 109-108 defeat at Portland, blowing a 13-point fourth-quarter lead and losing on Brandon Roy’s buzzer-beating layup.
The Knicks trail New Jersey by two games for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but they’re still optimistic after staying close to the Cavaliers and Celtics and nearly beating the Blazers, who are 19-5 at home.
“We played well enough to win. This one hurts. This was a tough one,” D’Antoni said Sunday. “… But I just like our effort and I like our guys, and we’ll try to get it done (Tuesday) night.”
With the offensive-minded D’Antoni at the helm, New York has scored 100 points or more in 11 straight games, averaging 109.0 over that span. David Lee had 29 points and 11 rebounds against Portland for his 14th straight double-double.
Al Harrington has also been a big contributor lately for the Knicks after coming over from Golden State in a Nov. 21 trade for Jamal Crawford. Harrington has started the last seven games and is averaging 28.0 points in the last five.
The Warriors visited Manhattan eight days after the trade, and the Knicks won 138-125 in what remains the highest-scoring non-overtime game in the league this season. Harrington had 36 points and 12 rebounds, and Lee led the Knicks with 37 points and 21 boards.
New York point guard Chris Duhon recorded 22 assists in that contest - the most in the league this season.
The Knicks, though, have lost their last six visits to the Bay Area, and Golden State (17-35) has improved after going 5-22 from Nov. 21-Jan. 10.
The Warriors have faced winning teams in each of their last seven games, and they have victories over New Orleans, Phoenix and Utah during that span, most recently knocking off the Jazz 116-96 on Sunday.
“We’re making progress, and that’s really all you can ask for right now,” forward Stephen Jackson said. “We’re right in every game. We have a chance to win every game. If we can continue to do that on the road, and protect our home, we’re doing what we’re supposed to do.”
Jackson had 20 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists against Utah, just missing what would have been his second triple-double in three games. He’s averaging 26.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 8.8 assists in four February contests.
The Warriors had gotten healthy, playing with a full lineup lately after Monta Ellis, Corey Maggette and Jackson had missed significant time. However, they’re now without Andris Biedrins and his 13.0 points and 11.8 rebounds per game after the center sprained his ankle Friday at Phoenix. He’s expected to be out until after the All-Star break.