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Knicks try to think positive as they host LeBron James and Cavs

Knicks guard J.R. Smith looks for a shot

Knicks guard J.R. Smith looks for a shot during a game against the Denver Nuggets on Nov. 16, 2014. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Carmelo Anthony is trying not to think about the Knicks' record and remain positive even as they sink to franchise-worst depths.

A loss Thursday night in LeBron James' first game at the Garden since returning to Cleveland and the Knicks will be 4-16 -- their worst record ever after 20 games. A win matches the mark, shared by last year's team.

"The teams that we're playing, the games that we're losing, you can't tell me that these teams are that much better than us," Anthony said.

"I really believe that. I'm going to keep believing that. We're fighting. We're just not getting the results we want at the end of the game."

The Knicks won in Cleveland in the Cavaliers opener Oct. 30, and began the season 2-1. Since then, they have lost 14 of 16. Their fifth straight defeat came Tuesday against the Nets and featured some confusion at the end.

Derek Fisher signaled for a timeout with the Knicks down three in the closing seconds. But Anthony and the referee didn't see it. Anthony took the ball up the court and missed the game-tying three-pointer, as the Knicks fell to 2-7 in games decided by five points or fewer.

Anthony said the Knicks have to learn "how to win" -- and quickly -- with almost a quarter of the season gone. "We ain't got no choice but to try to dig out of it," he said.

"Whether we can dig out of it or not we got to keep digging. We got to keep trying to climb out of it and try to figure some things out."

This is somewhat of a transition year, but Knicks president Phil Jackson has said the roster he helped assemble should compete for the playoffs. Yet the Knicks are experiencing similar struggles as last season -- and saying some of the same things.

Anthony made headlines for saying the Knicks were in "a dark place" and "dark space." On Tuesday, Iman Shumpert said he's trying to avoid those spots.

"Guys are going to be [ticked off] that they're losing," Shumpert said.

"I'm [ticked off] that I'm losing. I don't want to seem like I'm having fun losing games but I don't want to get in that dark place. I've been in that dark space and I couldn't get out of it so I don't want to get in that."

Anthony said, "It's OK to be upset sometimes when you lose basketball games. That means you care. But as far as becoming negative and getting down on everybody, people pointing fingers -- that's not going to happen."

That's an upgrade from last year for the Knicks -- who should get J.R. Smith back Thursday night after flu-like symptoms kept him out of Tuesday's game.

The Cavaliers have had some issues as well. But it was expected to take time for James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving to jell. They've won their last four to improve to 9-7.

Cleveland has the league's best player and too much talent to remain down. The Knicks can't say the same thing.

The Knicks haven't been good defensively, are the NBA's third-worst rebounding team, and have trailed by double digits in 12 games. Though they've fought back in many of them, the Knicks haven't executed well down the stretch on either end.

Fisher isn't concerned, though, and doesn't like that word.

"Am I happy about it? No. None of those players in the locker room are happy about it," he said. "But concerned is a defeated word. That is a word of not believing that you can still figure things out and we still believe that right now.

"If we were 4-15 and every time you watch us play, we couldn't beat the other team, I'd be concerned," Fisher said. "But we are seeing enough to let us know that if we just control the parts that we can control, we can actually win some of these games."

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