Carmelo Anthony: “I think we’re playing to lose”

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I’m not sure what more can be said about the Knicks play right now after nine straight losses.

Carmelo Anthony was searching for a way to describe New York’s play and was rightfully harsh in his assessment after a loss Sunday at home to a New Orleans team that had to play most of the game without Anthony Davis. Here is his quote, via ESPNNewYork.com.

“I think we’re playing to lose rather than playing to win right now,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ 103-99 loss to New Orleans on Sunday. “When you lose games the way we’ve been losing them at home, on the road, you start thinking a lot. You start playing a little tense, you start playing on your heels.”

The idea the Knicks are thinking too much and not just reacting was echoed by coach Mike Woodson.

“I thought coming down the stretch, we played on our heels. The [eight-game losing streak] we were looking at here was staring at us in the face [and] instead of relaxing and just playing, we just didn’t make one play,” Woodson said.

Anthony looked like a guy who was pressing Sunday. He realizes how much falls on his shoulders — there is no Raymond Felton/Tyson Chandler pick-and-roll to create shots, J.R. Smith remains cold following surgery, and while Andrea Bargnani gets them points he’s not a shot creator nor efficient. All that said, their offense is basically scoring at the same rate it has all season.

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The more serious problem remains the 27th ranked defense over the last 9 games (using points per possession, stats via NBA.com). Without Chandler (who could be out past Christmas) there is no good way to solve this, and there are no real assets worth trading to get a decent replacement. It falls to Kenyon Martin and he can only do so much.

The Knicks are going to start playing better at some point and rack up wins, and as bad as they’ve been they are just 3.5 games out of a playoff spot in a down East. But when they are going to turn it around and if they can dig out of this early season hole remains the questions.