The Indiana Pacers are mired in their longest losing streak of the season, but will next face a team struggling almost as badly.
The Pacers will try to end a seven-game skid on Wednesday night when they meet the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Indiana (19-30) has not won since a 110-103 victory at Philadelphia on Jan. 21. The Pacers' 116-89 loss to defending NBA champion San Antonio on Tuesday was also their fifth straight at home -- their worst such slide since dropping five in a row Jan. 15-Feb. 2, 2005.
However, Pacers guard Travis Diener was quick to point out their opponents on a just-completed four-game homestand -- Detroit, Houston, Orlando and San Antonio -- weren't exactly pushovers.
"The four teams we played were four of the best teams in the NBA, so the schedule-makers didn't do us any justice there," he said. "But even these next few games before the All-Star break, that's a brutal 10-game stretch."
Of course, Wednesday's foe doesn't look quite as daunting -- the Knicks (14-34) lost 103-94 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday and have dropped six straight for the third time this season. New York lost a season-high eight in a row Nov. 9-21.
The Knicks, who current slide started with an 0-5 road trip in which they blew second-half leads in four games, have averaged just 94.8 points during the losing streak. The Knicks shot 64 percent in the first half against the Clippers en route to a 60-51 lead, but were outscored 52-34 the rest of the way.
"In the second half when the ball stops moving, then it's tough to get points on the board," forward David Lee said. "When points don't get scored, then you almost have to get a stop every time down the floor to win the game."
Eddy Curry scored a team-high 19 points against Los Angeles, and Jamal Crawford had 16 of his 18 in the fourth quarter. However, the Knicks, who had won three of their previous four at home, were hampered by injuries as Nate Robinson missed the game with a bruised left quadriceps and starting forward Quentin Richardson left after spraining his right ankle late in the first half.
"I thought when Richardson went down it really took away a lot of our outside shooting and without having Robinson or Richardson in the game we had no threat," coach Isiah Thomas said.
X-rays on Richardson's ankle were negative.
"Right now, it is up in the air, but I hope to be ready," he said. "I am planning on being ready."
The Pacers, who are allowing an average of 109.0 points during their slide, are also dealing with injury problems. Jermaine O'Neal, who is averaging 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds, missed his ninth straight game on Tuesday with an injured left knee.
Without O'Neal, the Pacers, who shot 78.9 percent in the first quarter and 67.6 percent in the first half, matched their worst quarter this season with just nine points in the third.
"The third quarter was our demise," said Danny Granger, who had a team-high 16 points and extended his free-throw shooting streak to 42. "We had some good looks, couldn't get them to fall, turned the ball over a couple times and they hit a lot of big shots. We've got to find a way to get it together."