There are many ways to measure how badly the New York Knicks have struggled this century. A new metric will be introduced Monday, when the Knicks look to win a rare Martin Luther King Day Jr. road game when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers in a battle of Eastern Conference also-rans.
Both teams extended their latest losing streaks in agonizing fashion Saturday night, when the host Knicks were edged by the Philadelphia 76ers 90-87, and the visiting Cavaliers fell to the Chicago Bulls 118-116.
The results kept Cleveland (12-31) and New York (11-32) in 13th and 14th place in the 15-team Eastern Conference, and 27th and 28th overall, respectively, in the 30-team NBA.
The loss Saturday was the third straight for the Knicks, who appeared on the verge of upsetting the 76ers when Marcus Morris' jumper with under 35 seconds left gave New York its first lead since the first quarter.
But the 76ers' Tobias Harris drained a 3-pointer on the next trip down the floor and the Knicks didn't get a shot off during their subsequent possession.
"This was a tough one to swallow, because for the last couple seconds, we thought we got control of it," Morris said. "We played our (rear ends) off."
The Knicks are 7-14 under interim head coach Mike Miller, including 1-8 since Jan. 3, a span in which they have absorbed four losses by more than 20 points. Such results are familiar to the Cavaliers, who are 2-8 with four double-digit losses this month under embattled first-year head coach John Beilein.
The Cavaliers also have three one-possession losses in the new year, but none was as frustrating as the defeat they suffered Saturday, when Cleveland a season-high 73 points in the first half and entered the fourth quarter with a 15-point lead before committing 10 turnovers and missing 11 of 15 shots from the field over the final 12 minutes.
"That one really hits hard -- really disappointed in that because we played so well," Beilein said after the Cavaliers fell to 2-4 since he said the team was playing "like a bunch of thugs" when he said he meant to say "slugs" during a film session.
"The 26 turnovers (overall), you just ... (it) still plagues us. We've got to keep working at it, keep working at it, and just get our guys better in those areas."
The Knicks are expected to be without rookie RJ Barrett, who was sidelined Saturday and is likely amid a multi-game absence due to a sprained ankle.
The road game will be just the second on Martin Luther King Jr. Day since 1987 for the Knicks, who traditionally host a matinee on the holiday.
New York, which has reached the conference semifinals just once since the 1999-2000 season and is well on its way to its 16th losing season of the century, didn't host a game at Madison Square Garden on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2018 because the arena was preparing to host the Grammy Awards.
--Field Level Media