GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Knicks have lost seven straight, have the third-worst record in the NBA and are coming off a last-second loss to the Utah Jazz, a team that probably will find itself in the lottery.
Yet as they head into Sunday's game against the Denver Nuggets at Madison Square Garden, the mood on the team remains upbeat. Much more upbeat, Iman Shumpert said, than it was on last season's team, which never recovered from an early nine-game losing streak.
"Everything just seems to be going with a purpose this year,'' Shumpert said. "Everything seems like we can learn from this. There are no blowouts. There's no 'we came in with the wrong messages so we're getting our [butts] kicked . . . Everyone believes in what we're doing.''
Last week, after the Knicks lost their sixth straight game, first-year coach Derek Fisher noted that there was no finger-pointing on the team, as there had been in years past.
On Saturday, Shumpert -- who unlike Fisher was part of the team last season -- became the first player to acknowledge that there had been some problems with finger-pointing on Mike Woodson's squad.
"I definitely know, I know it was a problem last year,'' Shumpert said. "This year, it's a confidence in the system, it's a confidence in one another . . . Even though we've lost some tough ones early on, nobody here seems defeated. Everyone is ready to go.''
Shumpert, who left Friday night's 102-100 loss to Utah in the first quarter after bruising his hip when he fell while driving to the basket, is doubtful for Sunday's game. He isn't expected to miss much more time, though, as X-rays of the hip were negative.
Shumpert had nothing but great things to say about how his teammates battled back against the Jazz.
"It was great to watch,'' he said. "I thought everyone kept a positive attitude.''
Carmelo Anthony scored 46 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter, capped by a tying three- pointer off the glass with 2.3 seconds remaining.
"We played good enough to win,'' said Amar'e Stoudemire, who sat out to rest his knees but is expected to play Sunday. "I thought we showed some great qualities out there on both ends of the basketball court.''
Fisher said he believes that the hardship the Knicks are going through now will help them down the road.
"Reality is that I don't think any of us like to lose,'' he said. "But I think we hopefully in life, as we grow and evolve, we look at setbacks or misfortunes as opportunities to improve or get better. And so now, in a leadership position, it's not about me. It's about these guys and how much they're sacrificing to try to do this the right way.
"Oftentimes it takes humbling experiences and adversity to soften the environment enough for guys to really grow. I think we have a lot of that going on in our group right now and it'll pay off in the long run. Right now, we're not getting the wins that we would like, but it's gonna pay off.''