Atlanta Hawks forward Pero Antic, left, battles for position in...

Atlanta Hawks forward Pero Antic, left, battles for position in the lane with New York Knicks center Samuel Dalembert during the first half of an NBA game, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, in Atlanta. Atlanta won 103-96. Credit: AP / John Amis

The Knicks should have a pretty good idea of how their next opponent is going to play, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will be able to stop them.

Defense, the thing that coach Derek Fisher stressed the most in training camp, is what the Knicks are playing very little of this season. It's been missing in their last four games, all losses, including Saturday night in Atlanta.

The Hawks visit the Garden for a rematch Monday night. They took it to the Knicks (2-5) in the second half Saturday, erasing a 15-point second-quarter deficit, and Fisher's team never adjusted.

Their quick point guards, Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroeder, got wherever they wanted on the floor, and Kyle Korver came around screens for his trademark catch-and-shoot three-pointers. He buried the Knicks, shooting 6-for-9 from deep, in the Hawks' 103-96 victory.

"That just comes down to effort," Carmelo Anthony said.

Just like last season, the Knicks' three-point defense has been an issue.

They rank last in the league, allowing teams to shoot 42.7 percent from three-point range. During this losing skid, opponents are 42-for-87 (48.3 percent) on three-pointers.

"The three-point shooting is not what's beating us," Fisher said. "People like to talk about three-point shooting, but it's points in the paint, free throws and points at the rim."

That's the most defensive anyone on the Knicks has been this season. But there is no denying that the Knicks have had breakdowns that are leading to all those open threes. Late in Saturday's game, DeMarre Carroll knocked down one right in front of the Knicks' bench that made it 97-90.

But Fisher is correct that it's a little of everything on defense that has the Knicks looking lost and the coach searching for answers. He already has used five starting lineups, including four in the last four games. He could change it again Monday night in the Atlanta rematch.

Iman Shumpert has been one of the Knicks' best offensive players, but he hasn't looked like their best perimeter defender. Deron Williams and Korver torched him the last two games.

Point guard Shane Larkin is struggling to keep opponents in front of him. Tim Hardaway Jr. continues to be a defensive liability. Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, J.R. Smith and Jason Smith have never been known for their defense and haven't done anything to change their reputations.

The Knicks also have said that their offensive woes are affecting their defensive intensity.

"The lack of confidence we have as a team and it's affecting both ends of the court," Anthony said. "We got to figure out a way how to kind of bounce back and get our confidence back."

Anthony has been in a funk. He's shooting 26-for-84 (31 percent) and averaging 17.5 points during the losing streak. He's not getting much going to the basket for easy scores, but few Knicks are. They are a jump-shooting team, and as a result, they're not getting to the line much.

Meanwhile, opposing teams are feeding off the out-of-position Knicks, who are using their hands more than moving their feet. In the last four games, opponents have taken 53 more free throws than the Knicks and made 35 more.

The Knicks hope to get Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani and Pablo Prigioni back from injuries this week. They should help their offense, but not one of them is a strong defender.

"We got to go with what's in front of us now," Anthony said. "We got to go out there and play. We can sit here and make every excuse up in the book, but I won't. We just got to accept it, take it on the chin and move forward."


FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.