Breaking Down the New York Knicks' 8-Game Losing Streak

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Breaking Down the New York Knicks' 8-Game Losing Streak
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Things have gone from bad to worse for the New York Knicks this season. 

After falling to the Denver Nuggets 97-95 on Friday, the Knicks extended their losing streak to eight games and slid to a dismal 3-12 to start the season.

In the game's closing seconds, Carmelo Anthony had the opportunity to drain a game-tying baseline jumper and silence the bitter Denver fans who showered him with boos all night. More importantly, though, the shot would have been the first step towards perhaps righting the Knicks' slowly sinking ship. 

Instead, however, Randy Foye's outstretched hand tipped the ball, causing the shot, and the Knicks, to fall tragically short. 

After the game, Anthony told Scott Cacciola of the New York Times that the loss was his fault. "I think we did everything coming down the stretch to win the basketball game. I didn't pull it through for us, and that's on me."

In many ways, Anthony was correct in his assessment. The Knicks entered the fourth quarter down by eight and clawed their way back, eventually giving their star a chance to tie the game. 'Melo missed the shot and squelched the Knicks' opportunity to pick up a desperately needed win on the road. 

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

However, the Knicks' problems started long before the final seconds of regulation in Denver. 

After opening the season with a win over Milwaukee, the Knicks have won just two of their last 14 games. Moreover, the team has been the focus of an abundance of negative media attention. From the Chris Smith fiasco to the uncertainty of Mike Woodson's future, the Knicks have been unable to find balance on the court or in the locker room. 

Lastly, as the Knicks have continued to dig themselves deeper, it has become increasingly evident that Carmelo Anthony will opt out of his contract at the end of the season to test the waters of free agency.

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Unfortunately for the Knicks, their last eight games have been peppered with matchups against some of the leagues top teams. The last three games of their recent four-game road trip saw the Knicks square off against the Trail Blazers, Clippers and Nuggets. 

Now, the Knicks will return to Madison Square Garden as the not-so-proud owners of the NBA's third-worst record. 

But how did it get this bad for Carmelo Anthony and company? 

Surprisingly, the Knicks' biggest problem thus far has been getting the ball in the basket. New York ranks 25th in the NBA in team offense, scoring just 92.4 points per game. It's hard to fathom how a team with the NBA's reigning scoring champion is so offensively inept. 

Perhaps, it's the supporting cast that's ruining the show. 

Last season, when the Knicks finished 54-28, the team got huge contributions from players such as Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Tyson Chandler.

It hasn't been quite the same story this season. 

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Shumpert has spent the season doing his best to ignore rampant trade rumors that suggest he'll be shipped out of New York as soon as James Dolan can find a team interested in the young guard. His play has suffered immensely. The 23-year-old is averaging just 7.3 points per game and has been struggling to establish his role in the Knicks' erratic offensive system. 

Reigning Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith has fallen back into old habits. The self-assured shooting guard is letting it fly from all over the court, and he seems generally uninterested in the result. Smith is shooting 32.8 percent from the field this season, and averaging more than 13 shot attempts per game. What's worse, he is shooting 28.6 percent from long-distance and 59.1 percent from the line. 

Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Tyson Chandler suffered a knee injury in a game against Charlotte on Nov. 5 and has yet to return to the Knicks rotation. Last season, Chandler served as the centerpiece of New York's defense. In his absence, the Knicks have struggled defending the paint. Offseason acquisition Andrea Bargnani simply lacks the tenacity and athleticism necessary to protect the rim with any efficiency. 

It's unclear what exactly the Knicks need to do to get back on track. What is clear, however, is that they need to do it soon. To match their win total from last season, the Knicks would have to finish this season 51-16, per Paul Willis of ESPN.

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'Melo wants the Knicks to have fun again

The Knicks are also feeling a sense of impending doom. Following their loss to the Clippers on Nov. 27, the Knicks held a closed-door meeting for players and coaches only. Of course, no one outside the Knicks organization knows the specifics of what was discussed in the Clippers' visitors locker room that night, however, it's likely that 'Melo tried to keep things optimistic and reminded his teammates to have fun. 

After the meeting, Anthony told Arash Marzaki of that the Knicks "have to get back to basketball and having fun, because when the game is not fun anymore, you get results like this."

Of course, Anthony and the Knicks would go on to lose a nailbiter to the Nuggets two nights later. 

At least it was a fun game to watch. 

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