The Indiana Pacers haven't started a season with four consecutive losses since setting a franchise record nearly 21 years ago. An injury to Troy Murphy could be a major blow, but a meeting with the up-tempo New York Knicks might be just what they need.
The Pacers hope Murphy is able to play Wednesday night when they visit the Knicks, who are looking to build on their first win of the season.
Indiana (0-3) lost again Tuesday, falling 111-93 to Denver while shooting 39.6 percent (36 for 91) from the floor, including a 3-for-22 performance from 3-point range. That dismal showing from beyond the arc came after the team went 4 for 23 in a 96-83 defeat to Miami on Friday.
"It's very tough to take three losses in a row like this," guard Dahntay Jones said. "We're sick and tired of losing."
The Pacers haven't started 0-4 since losing the first nine games of the 1988-89 season, setting a team record.
Recording their first victory would be more difficult if Murphy is unable to return Wednesday. The forward-center suffered a lower back injury and left the game after he fell hard to the floor in the first quarter against the Nuggets.
Murphy is averaging 8.7 points and 9.7 rebounds through three games after finishing second in the NBA with a career-high 9.8 rebounds last season. He also finished third in 3-point shooting (45.0 percent) in 2008-09.
"It's kind of stiffened up," Murphy said of his back. "It's not the most comfortable thing right now, but hopefully, it will feel better (Wednesday) and I'll be able to go."
Indiana is averaging 95.0 points over three games after ranking second in the Eastern Conference last season with 105.1, one-tenth of a point behind New York.
Murphy credits a number of issues for the Pacers' slow start.
"It's a combination of everything, a little combination of the injuries, the new guys, everything like that," he said. "We've got to figure it out quick or we're going to be in a deep hole, too deep a hole for us to dig ourselves out."
The Pacers may have an ideal opportunity to get their first win against the Knicks (1-3), who are giving up a league-high average of 117.3 points after they were last in the East with 107.8 points allowed last season.
New York, though, is also among the highest-scoring teams in the NBA, averaging 109.3 points.
The Knicks had another strong offensive showing Monday, beating New Orleans 117-111 as David Lee scored a season-high 28 points.
"I thought they showed character. They battled back," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "To get that first win, it gets a little hairy. I'm just encouraged as a whole, the whole game."
Al Harrington has been impressive as New York's top reserve over the last two games, totaling 66 points while shooting 24 for 44 from the floor. The forward-center had 32 points on 12 for 34 from the field as a starter over the previous two contests.
Harrington spent his first six seasons with the Pacers after being drafted 25th overall in 1998. He averaged 28.3 points in three meetings against his former club last season.
The Knicks took two of those three matchups with Indiana, as the teams split two games at Madison Square Garden.