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Saturday, November 23, 2013
3-9 Knicks starting to feel the pressure

By Ian Begley

WASHINGTON -- The losses are piling up. And the Knicks are starting to feel the pressure.

New York has dropped five in a row and six of seven. After the Knicks' latest setback, J.R. Smith noticed his teammates starting to tighten up a bit.

"There's a lot of pressure going into the next shot, the next play, the next possession," Smith said after the Knicks' 98-89 loss to Washington. "I think we've got to, after one play is over, look forward to the next play and try to do better the next time. I think we're overanalyzing stuff. We need to get back to having fun and playing basketball."

The Knicks (3-9) are a long way from having fun.

They are tied with the Brooklyn Nets for last place in the Atlantic Division and only a game up on Milwaukee, the worst team in the Eastern Conference.

"It's a very tough time right now," Carmelo Anthony said. "It's a time where you can easily put your head down and mope around. But I can't do that."

Anthony might have his head held high.

But Knicks fans can be excused if they feel the need to mope after Saturday's loss.

The Knicks were led by three at the half but were outscored by 10 in the third quarter and never recovered. They had no answer for Washington point guard John Wall, who had 31 points and seven assists.

New York has had a tough time covering point guards all season. And it won't get any easier from here.

The Knicks face Portland's Damian Lillard on Monday, Chris Paul and the Clippers on Wednesday and Ty Lawson's Nuggets on Friday.

"We've had our struggles this year [guarding point guards]. But the schedule is what it is, we can't run from it," Mike Woodson said.

It wasn't just point guard play that crushed the Knicks on Saturday.

Washington center Marcin Gortat had 16 points and 17 rebounds, abused Andrea Bargnani for much of the night. Martell Webster hit 5 of 10 3s, a few of which came over Anthony. And Smith struggled down the stretch, missing all four free throws and turning the ball over twice in the fourth quarter.

"When you're trying to chip away at the lead, stuff like that takes the air out of you. We did it to ourselves," he said.

It wasn't just Smith, though. The Knicks made just four shots (4-for-11) in the final seven minutes.

Smith said he noticed the Knicks tightening up in possessions down the stretch.

"We're not getting the calls or the ball's not sinking and falling, a lot of it, we take the blame on ourselves," Smith said.

"We're just trying to stay together as much as possible."

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