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Knicks lose to Bulls, take franchise-worst 60th loss

Head coach Derek Fisher of the New York

Head coach Derek Fisher of the New York Knicks questions a referee's call against the Chicago Bulls during the first half of an NBA game on Saturday, March 28, 2015, in Chicago. Credit: Getty Images / Jonathan Daniel

CHICAGO - Phil Jackson has the dubious distinction of playing for the best team the Knicks have ever had and presiding over the worst one in franchise history.

Jackson was hired to lead the Knicks to their first NBA title since 1973, and he believed he had put together a playoff-caliber team before the season began. In his first full year as team president, though, the Knicks -- a charter NBA franchise that began operations in 1946 -- have lost 60 games for the first time.

The record-setting loss was administered by Jackson's former team. The Bulls trounced the Knicks, 111-80, Saturday night at the United Center, dropping them to 14-60.

Coincidentally, it happened in the city where Jackson was revered as a basketball genius. He wasn't here -- he rarely travels with the Knicks -- but his presence is felt inside the arena.

There are banners representing the division championships and Eastern Conference titles as well as the six NBA championships they won under Jackson. There's also one specifically for Jackson that has his name, years and coaching record (545-193).

First-year coach Derek Fisher will have this mark on his resume, but he accepts it. Jackson might not have been as reserved if his former bosses with the Bulls had given him a roster like the one he assembled. But Fisher has handled losing better than can be expected.

"I don't think it's unfair. It's a reality," he said. "When you take a job, there's no guarantee you'll be successful. There's no guarantee any particular year will go as well as it can go or as bad as it can go.

"This is just kind of part of the journey. This is the first year. I think you just learn from the tough times, the bad nights, the losses, and hopefully it informs of what you need to do to get better going forward."

The trade of Tyson Chandler to Dallas has been a bust. In January, during a 16-game losing streak, Jackson traded J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert for cap space and waived Samuel Dalembert. Last month, the Knicks bought out Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony had season-ending knee surgery. Now the Knicks regularly start three players who originally were signed to 10-day contracts.

They trailed by 36 against Chicago and lost by at least 16 points for the fifth time in six games. They're 4-17 since losing Anthony and Stoudemire, with nine losses by at least 21 points.

Nikola Mirotic scored 24 points and Pau Gasol had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls. Andrea Bargnani's 14 points led the Knicks.

The Knicks went 23-59 in three previous seasons, the last time in 2007-08, and also have gone 21-59 and 22-59.

Jackson and Fisher, of course, are hoping for a quick turnaround and to build something sustainable. Anthony will be back next season, and the Knicks should have a top-four pick and about $30 million to spend. But Fisher said that doesn't mean the Knicks will get their top choice, and he cautioned that they need to be smart with their money.

"We have a lot of money to spend, so I would assume we'd get a chance to sign someone," he said. "But that's no guarantee of anything. We should all kind of learn from the past in that regard in terms of the history of our team and our organization -- because spending money on people doesn't really mean anything.''

"Who are they? Who are we? What are we trying to accomplish? What kind of culture are we trying to build? All of that stuff has to come together, and everybody has to be on the same page in that regard. So it doesn't really matter who we get, but what foundation are we bringing them into? And those are the habits we're building this year no matter what our record is."

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