SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Carmelo Anthony hasn't wanted to think about what it will be like if he misses the playoffs for the first time in his career, but he was forced to face another first Tuesday.
The Knicks' embarrassing 31-point loss to the Lakers meant they will have a losing record this season, something that Anthony had never experienced in his previous 10 years in the league.
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Depending on how the Knicks finish out their last 11 games, they actually could end up with 50 losses one year after compiling 54 wins and claiming their first Atlantic Division title since 1994. They took a 29-42 record into Wednesday night's game against the Kings.
"It's tough," Anthony said. "I've never been in that situation before, especially coming off a 50-plus win season and thinking and hoping and wishing we would build off of that momentum that we had last year. To know how good it felt to start something by winning 54 games, winning the division and then having 29 wins right now, the tables are turned."
The one byproduct of this underachieving season is Phil Jackson might not be the Knicks' president right now if the year had gone as everyone in the organization had hoped.
Jackson has provided hope that the future will be better because he understands what it takes to win, how to relate to players and he can be a great recruiter.
The Knicks have played throughout this season like a team in need of a new identity, new philosophy and new faces.
Put aside the recent eight-game winning streak that brought the Knicks back into the playoff picture -- they were 21/2 games behind Atlanta, and three back in the loss column, for the last spot in the East heading into Wednesday night's game.
Overall, the season has been turbulent and chaotic, filled with maddening and indefensible performances.
The Knicks gave away a 17-point lead in a loss to Cleveland Sunday, but Tuesday's defeat was much worse because they showed no passion, fire or purpose for most of the night in Los Angeles. Now their playoff hopes are on life support.
"I don't want to say I'm concerned, but at this point we got to win basketball games and we got to do it quickly," Anthony said. "There's some level of concern because we know what we're up against right now. We can't focus on that. We just got to play."
The Lakers didn't have Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash or Pau Gasol, yet they scored a franchise-record 51 points in the third quarter with Jackson watching from a luxury suite. Considering the importance of the game -- and the opponent -- the Knicks literally had no explanation for their lack of effort or urgency.
Anthony and Tyson Chandler both said "you can't" explain why it happened. Ultimately, it was another game that didn't reflect well on Mike Woodson, who may be coaching his final games with the Knicks.
Woodson said afterward that he thought they had a solid game plan and the players said they were told about how the Lakers would play. But they didn't respond.
"I guess we didn't pay attention to what the coaches told us," Amar'e Stoudemire said.
Time is running out on Woodson and on the Knicks' season. Other common sentiments in the locker room after the loss was that the Knicks had no other choice but to bounce back and that they needed to display more pride.
"This right here shows your true colors, shows your character, how you are as a player and person," J.R. Smith said. "You want to fold and go home, that's what people are going to see. This shows who you really are. It [stinks] that it has to come down to this but it always does."