Knicks hold team meeting after suffering seventh straight loss

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The Knicks lost to the Clippers on Wednesday for the team’s seventh straight defeat, one that sent them to a dismal record of 3-11 on the season.

That wasn’t exactly the plan coming off of a year where New York finished with the second best record in the East, and expectations heading into the season were at minimum to finish with a top-four record in the Conference.

As the team continues to find its way, the players and coaches will continue to try to hash out the issues in hopes of coming to a workable solution. And one such meeting took place immediately following New York’s latest loss in Los Angeles.

From Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles:

“The easiest thing for us to do is just to crumble right now,” Carmelo Anthony said. “We are in a dark place but we have to get out of this. We just have to get out of it.”

The meeting took place in the visitors’ locker room of Staples Center following the Knicks’ 93-80 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Knicks have the third-worst record in the league, and a loss Friday night in Denver would mean losing eight straight for the first time since February 2010.

“We talked. Everybody talked,” Anthony said. “The players had a meeting, the coaches — everybody had a meeting after the game. We had to talk. We’re trying to figure it out together. We have to put four quarters together. We got to do it for one another. Right now the game is not fun for nobody. We’re just not making it happen.”

The Knicks were actually in the game against the Clippers for longer than expected, but a 12-point fourth quarter ultimately doomed their chances.

New York has issues on both sides of the ball right now — J.R. Smith has yet to come close to playing like he did a season ago when he was the league’s top sixth man, and the Knicks have struggled defensively ever since Tyson Chandler went down with a fractured right fibula injury.

There are plenty of things the Knicks need to clean up, and lengthy postgame meetings are usually a sign of some deeper-seeded problems. But at least the players and coaches are talking and working together on potential solutions, so the communication is there even if the on-court results haven’t shown themselves just yet.

Knicks say they scouted Giannis Antetokounmpo in Greece

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Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s agent, Giorgos Panou, said the Knicks were the only team not to scout Antetokounmpo in Greece before the 2013 NBA draft.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

If the Knicks indeed scouted Antetokounmpo that thoroughly, it’s a shame they were smeared for not doing so.

Milwaukee took Antetokounmpo No. 13. New York had the No. 24 pick and kept it to draft Tim Hardaway Jr.

Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma scores 35, wins MVP, leads USA to victory in Rising Stars dunkfest

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CHARLOTTE — Nobody comes to the Friday night Rising Stars Challenge — the All-Star weekend showcase of first- and second-year stars — for the defense. Which is good, because there isn’t any. Zero. Nada. Your Saturday blacktop pickup game at the local park has guys that care more about defense than you see in this game.

What the Rising Stars has are dunks. A lot of big dunks. And some threes. Then more dunks.

For example, the Hawks’ John Collins was showing off why he was in the dunk contest, complete with a pass off the backboard to himself.

As for the game itself, the USA won 161-144 over the World.

The Lakers Kyle Kuzma raced out to 23 first-half points and finished with 35 to earn MVP honors.

“Last year I didn’t really play that hard,” Kuzma said of his first time in this game. “This year I just came out, one, I wanted to get some conditioning, and, two, why not MVP? You’re in the game. So might as well just try.”

Kuzma also broke out the windmill.

D’Aaron Fox said before the game he wanted to break the assist record for the Rising Stars, and while he fell short of that number he had 16 for the USA. Boston’s Jayson Tatum had 30 and Donovan Mitchell had 20 for the USA. Ben Simmons led the Word team of 28 points.

As for highlights, there were plenty.

Atlanta’s Trae Young hit six threes and had this dime.

He also had the play of the night, nutmegging Deandre Ayton.

Philly’s Ben Simmons had a couple of throwdowns.

The Timberwolves Josh Okogie had the putback of the night (teammate and All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns sat courtside wearing an Okogie jersey).

Hawks’ John Collins passes to self off backboard for dunk in Rising Stars

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CHARLOTTE — The NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge — the Friday night showcase of first- and second-year players during All-Star Weekend — has less defense than your lunch run pickup game at the Y. Even less than the All-Star Game itself.

Which leads to some monster dunks.

Enter Atlanta’s second-year big man John Collins, playing for the USA (vs. The World), who went off the backboard to himself for the best throwdown of the game.

That wasn’t Collins’ only quality dunk in this game.

He looks ready for Saturday’s Dunk Contest.

Report: Nuggets extend president Tim Connelly’s contract

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On the same day the Pelicans fired general manager Dell Demps, the Nuggets extended the contract of president Tim Connelly, who went to Denver from New Orleans.

Nuggets release:

Nuggets President and Governor Josh Kroenke announced today that the Nuggets have extended the contracts of President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly and General Manager Arturas Karnisovas as well and also provided multi-year extensions for the entire basketball operations staff.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

I don’t know whether Connelly used the threat of the Pelicans job as leverage. But he deserved this extension, anyway.

The Nuggets have only continued to rise since his previous extension three years ago.

Denver has yet to make the playoffs under Connelly, and he declared this season postseason or bust. Denver (39-18) is second in the Western Conference.

Connelly made a second-round pick so good in Nikola Jokic, it altered the course of the franchise. Connelly has done well to lock Jokic onto a five-year extension, surround him with young talent like Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Monte Morris, Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez and get them a good coach in Michael Malone.

If Denver weren’t stuck barely missing the playoffs in the loaded West the last couple years, we might have been singing Connelly’s praises sooner. But his success is undeniable. The Nuggets are in great shape now and in the future, and Connelly should see that through.