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SportsColumnistsAl Iannazzone

Eight losses could come back to haunt Knicks

Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Tim Hardaway Jr. and

Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Raymond Felton of the Knicks look on late in a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, March 23, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Remarkably, the Knicks remain in the playoff race despite being 13 games under .500. They're only 1 1/2 games behind eighth-place Atlanta with nine to go.

The Knicks have had some really bad and lopsided losses this season and in the past week. But if they just miss out on the playoffs, here are some games that will haunt them:

Cavaliers 106, Knicks 100, March 23

A week ago, the Knicks led by 17 in the second quarter and 15 at the half at home and inexplicably let up. They were outscored 60-39 after halftime. Jarrett Jack torched them for 23 second-half points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, when the Knicks totaled only 14. Carmelo Anthony had no field goals in the game's last 18:10.

Hawks 107, Knicks 98, Feb. 22

After leading by 17 in the third and 14 late in the quarter, the Knicks were outscored 50-27 in the last 14:08. It tied the season series at 2-2 and prevented the Knicks from earning the head-to-head tiebreaker; the Hawks own the next tiebreaker, which is conference record. Three Hawks finished with at least 24 points and two had career highs -- Mike Scott (30) and DeMarre Carroll (24). Anthony had 35 points and Tyson Chandler grabbed 23 rebounds.

Magic 129, Knicks 121 (2 OT), Feb. 21

The Knicks led by 14 in the third quarter and four with less than 90 seconds to go in regulation. Poor execution and no defense on rookie Victor Oladipo (30 points, 14 rebounds, nine assists) led to this defeat, wasting Anthony's 44-point night.

Kings 106, Knicks 101 (OT), Feb. 12

In the last game before the All-Star break, the Knicks led by 12 with 8:50 left in the third quarter and five with less than 90 seconds to go, but they couldn't get the stops they needed against Jimmer Fredette (24 points) and fell in overtime.

Bucks 101, Knicks 98, Feb. 3

The NBA-worst Bucks came in with only eight wins and got their ninth as Raymond Felton couldn't contain Brandon Knight. Felton was beaten backdoor by Knight with 27.9 seconds left and gave up an open three-pointer to him with 1.4 seconds remaining.

76ers 110, Knicks 106, Jan. 22

The Knicks played with little effort and lost at home to a team that has won only twice since. One of those two wins came Saturday night, when the 76ers routed the Pistons to end their losing streak at 26 games.

Wizards 103, Knicks 102, Dec. 16

The No-Timeout Game. The Knicks gave up a tying three-pointer by Bradley Beal with 45.1 seconds left. After Beno Udrih's free throw, despite having a foul to give, the Knicks botched the defensive assignment and Beal drove for an open layup with 6.9 seconds left. Mike Woodson didn't call timeout to design a play or settle the rattled Knicks, and Anthony misfired on an off-balance runner from behind the three-point arc at the buzzer.

Pacers 103, Knicks 96 (OT), Nov. 20

The Knicks led by 13 early and three in the waning seconds of the fourth when Iman Shumpert, who had been told to foul right away, hit Paul George as he shot a three-pointer. George hit all three free throws to tie it and Anthony missed a leaner at the buzzer. The dispirited Knicks had nothing left in OT.

You can count on the Spurs

As we spring toward April, the 76ers and Bucks are more than 40 games below .500, the Magic is more than 30 under, and the Jazz, Celtics, Lakers, Kings and Pistons are more than 20 under.

But the always consistent Spurs have won at least 50 games for the 15th consecutive season, and that includes the 66-game 2011-12 lockout season (50-16). The last time the Spurs failed to win 50 was the 1999 lockout season. They were 37-13 -- and that winning percentage carried over 82 games is 61 victories.

When best laid plans . . .

As of now, the Knicks are looking at the summer of 2015 to load up on stars in a free-agent class that could include LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge.

The Knicks had a similar plan in 2010, when James was the main target and they thought they had a good shot at Joe Johnson, too. Amar'e Stoudemire was their big signing.

Mike D'Antoni, who coached the Knicks at the time, was asked why that plan didn't meet its full potential.

"We didn't get that one guy, I forget his name," D'Antoni said, referring to James. "I forgot who it was. That kind of made us sideways a bit."

The Knicks could have a better shot to stay on course this time with Phil Jackson as their top recruiter.

Fast breaks

- Chris Bosh is known for his extravagant birthday parties, and his 30th bash this past week at Marlins Park had a carnival/circus theme. It featured a dunk tank, where Heat players got to dunk coaches. Dwyane Wade threw the ball that dropped coach Erik Spoelstra in the water, Bosh dunked assistant Juwan Howard, and LeBron James took down Heat assistant David Fizdale.

- Carmelo Anthony is a fan of Kings mercurial big man DeMarcus Cousins, one of four players averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds this season. "I love him," Anthony said. "I'm trying to get him to calm down a little bit. But I love his game, what he can do out there on the basketball court. He stuffs the stat sheet."

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