WASHINGTON >> The New York Knicks’ deconstruction project hit a new low Wednesday night with a 101-91 loss to the Washington Wizards, setting a record for longest in-season losing streak in the proud franchise’s 69-year history.
The defeat was the Knicks’ 13th in a row, surpassing the mark set at the end of the 1984-85 season, and their 23rd in 24 games. It featured all the now-familiar follies and a few new ones: passes that went nowhere, shots that became bricks, and Tim Hardaway Jr.’s bizarre decision to pass the ball away from the basket when he had a two-on-one fast break right in front of him.
John Wall had 18 points and eight assists for the Wizards, who avoided slipping in an obvious trap game after a tough five-game road trip.
Jose Calderon scored 17 points for the Knicks, whose roster requires a flow chart these days just to keep up. Carmelo Anthony (sore left knee) and Amare Stoudemire (sore right knee) remain sidelined. J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert have been traded away. Langston Galloway, signed to a 10-day contract earlier in the day, played 18 minutes. Team president Phil Jackson is mostly concerned with clearing salary cap space for the future.
The clearly outmatched underdogs hung around for a few minutes until a 9-0 Washington run late in the first quarter. The Wizards never really put the Knicks away, but there was never a sense that they were danger of losing, and Rasual Butler’s back-to-back baskets midway through the fourth quarter quieted any and all concerns after New York cut the deficit to five.
First-year coach Derek Fisher said before the game he wasn’t aware his team was on the verge of a dubious achievement.
“This franchise has been around long before I was even born, so we can’t carry that much weight into a game like tonight,” Fisher said. “There’s a lot of guys in this locker room that weren’t alive barely 20 years ago, so it’s just about our team and what it is that we’re trying to do.
“We don’t like our record, where it falls in franchise history. I guess it would be a reality possibly depending on how the night goes tonight, but that doesn’t have to define us at all. That’s what it is, that’s what it would be and when things are going well for us, we’re setting records the other way, that’ll just be a part of this job and we’ll keep moving forward.”
For now, however, their unwelcome record chase isn’t done. The Knicks won the draft lottery and came away with Patrick Ewing after their sour finish in 1985, but they also lost the first eight games of the 1985-86 season to complete a franchise-record 20-game skid — a mark well within reach of this year’s team.
Knicks: Fs Lou Amundson and Lance Thomas and C Alex Kirk — all received in the Smith-Shumpert trade — were waived, as expected. Wizards: F Paul Pierce was given the night off ahead of a demanding upcoming set of games, starting with Chicago on Friday. Otto Porter started in Pierce’s spot, and F Martell Webster (18 minutes) received his most extensive playing time since returning from back surgery. … Swingman Glen Rice Jr. was waived. He played in only five games this season and was shipped to the D-League in late November.
Knicks: Host Rockets on Thursday. Wizards: Host Bulls on Friday.