GREENBURGH - Anyone up for a letdown?
It's hard to imagine that a team on a three-game losing streak would be unprepared or take a step back, but the Knicks might have to be on guard for such a thing when they open a three-game road trip in Portland this afternoon.
After the bright lights and "MVP!" chants at the Garden for the visiting (and triumphant) Lakers, Cavaliers and Celtics, a 3,000-mile trip to face the Blazers, Warriors and Clippers will be a bit of a break. At least from the oddity that was "Dream Week," or "Hell Week," or whatever it was called.
"You can't exhale because we went 0-3," Al Harrington said. "If it was 3-0, it might go the other way, but it didn't. We're hungrier and there's a greater sense of urgency now to get this turned around."
The Knicks currently sit 10th in the East, three games behind the eighth-place Bucks in the win column with three games in hand. The games at the Garden this past week may have been attention-getting and a blast for the fans, but the losses set the Knicks back and showed, especially with Friday night's 110-100 loss to the Celtics, that the Knicks have a ways to go to learn how to finish strong against an elite team.
"Right now, we're not at their level," Mike D'Antoni said after a short practice at the team's training center, which was followed by an early-afternoon flight to Portland. "But I thought we showed signs, flashes, of being at anyone's level. We just have to lengthen the times we're really good."
D'Antoni and his players took away some positives from the losses to three of the best teams in the league, which may have sounded like too much self-congratulating for a week without a win.
But it's also a reminder that, despite the 21-28 record and the battle for one of the last playoff spots, this team is in the midst of a serious rebuild.
"I liked it in the sense of we played as hard as we could," D'Antoni said. "These are things new teams will always go through. The guys were into it, they want to do it. That's all you can ask for."
Notes & quotes: Quentin Richardson (personal reasons) missed practice but was expected to travel with the team ... Danilo Gallinari is scheduled to play both ends of the back-to-back games with the Warriors and Clippers on Tuesday and Wednesday, the first time he'll have played on consecutive days since he returned to the lineup Jan. 17.