The Minnesota Timberwolves haven’t won a road game since before Christmas, but if the New York Knicks approach Tuesday’s meeting like they did their most recent game, that seven-game road skid is sure to end.
Coming off their worst loss ever at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks look to put forth a better effort and bounce back against the Western Conference’s worst team.
New York (17-26) trailed by two points after the first quarter Sunday against visiting Dallas, but the Knicks quickly fell apart after that in a 128-78 loss that was the second-worst in franchise history and the largest at home.
While their offense sputtered, shooting a season-worst 33.7 percent from the field while failing to reach 80 points for the first time, the Knicks had even bigger problems at the defensive end, putting forth little resistance as the Mavericks shot 58.1 percent.
New York coach Mike D’Antoni said Dallas “took our heart out of us,” outscoring the Knicks 69-35 after halftime.
“It’s hard to even comment on this game, it was just so bad in every area,” D’Antoni said. “It’s regretful, but it happened, and we’ll just try to flush it down the toilet.”
Asked if his team’s effort was there, D’Antoni said, “I hope not, because if it was, we’re in trouble.”
Although Sunday’s loss was historically bad, the Knicks have been stumbling for a few weeks following an 11-5 stretch that had them in contention for their first playoff spot since 2004. They’ve lost six of their last eight, allowing at least 105 points in five of the defeats.
“Our defense, we’re just not physically getting into people,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t know if it’s tired legs or just running out of energy a little bit.”
A matchup with the Timberwolves (9-36) could be a major help to the Knicks considering Minnesota is 3-19 on the road and 2-12 in its last 14 games overall. The Wolves have not won away from home since a 103-99 victory at New Jersey on Dec. 23, matching their longest road slide of the season.
They opened a three-game trip with a blowout loss of their own on Saturday night, losing 127-94 at Milwaukee for their third straight defeat overall. Minnesota center Al Jefferson(notes) said the Bucks “killed our confidence,” shooting 57.6 percent.
Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said his team was flat in part because of a 96-94 home loss to New Orleans on a buzzer-beater the night before.
“Our guys aren’t able to sustain the energy, focus and intensity particular after coming off tough losses,” Rambis said. “They have a difficult time being able to muster up the energy.”
Although Minnesota has once again lost three straight, rookie guard Jonny Flynn(notes) has been showing more consistency. Flynn is averaging 19.8 points and 5.8 assists while shooting 52.6 percent from the field in his last four contests.
Flynn averaged 19.8 points and 9.3 assists at Madison Square Garden during the Big East tournament last season, leading Syracuse to the finals after a memorable six-overtime win over Connecticut in the quarterfinals.
The Timberwolves have won six of their last eight in Manhattan, including a 120-107 victory on Dec. 26, 2008, although the Knicks won the most recent meeting 102-94 in Minneapolis on March 13 while Jefferson was sidelined.
The teams complete their season series when the Knicks visit Minnesota on Sunday.