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SportsColumnistsAl Iannazzone

Knicks analysis: The only good news is that things can't get worse, right?

Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks

Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks reacts after a foul was called in the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

There are cracks everywhere, the Knicks appear ready to crumble -- and it's not even winter yet.

They have lost 20 of their first 24 games, including the last 10. They have had a players-only meeting to clear the air and might need to have another one.

Reportedly, some players are unhappy with Carmelo Anthony, many of them don't like the triangle offense, and Anthony and Tim Hardaway Jr. had a heated exchange during a game last week.

Adding injury to insult, Anthony has a left knee issue that eventually might require surgery and J.R. Smith hobbled in and out of the AT&T Center in San Antonio on Wednesday night because of a heel problem.

Through it all, Derek Fisher has put up a strong front and continues to try to stay the course, believing -- or perhaps hoping -- his steadfast approach eventually will be rewarded.

"You can't waver on becoming successful," Fisher said. "You'll never get there if you waver or give up. That's what we have to expect as a group. Losing affects everybody . . . but you must take something from it and learn something from it if you want it to change.

"We have to take our lumps and accept what it is at this moment, but not necessarily accept that it's going to stay that way. So we'll just keep working until it changes."

Anthony and Smith are questionable for Friday night's game in Boston as the Knicks try to snap their longest losing skid in eight years. They're off to the worst start in franchise history and nearing their worst one-season losing streak -- 12 games in 1984-85.

"It's kind of hard to deal with," Amar'e Stoudemire said. "I'm trying to stay strong, not to let frustration set in. To be quite frank, it's not easy at this point. But I don't know, man.

"You've got to have the will to win and you've got to refuse to lose, and we don't quite have that yet."

Fisher made the jump from player to coach and signed a five-year, $25-million contract in June. But the honeymoon is over for the first-time coach and his boss, first-time team president Phil Jackson.

The Knicks weren't expected to challenge for the Eastern Conference title, but no one thought they would be barely ahead of the 2-19 76ers.

Many of Jackson's moves were praised at the time, including the hiring of Fisher, a natural leader and key player on five championship teams.

As the Knicks continue to lose and Fisher's ever-changing starting fives, substitution patterns, play-calling, late-game lineups and demeanor get questioned, Jackson's first choice to coach, Steve Kerr, is 19-2 with Golden State.

Tyson Chandler, who was traded in the offseason, is having a strong season with the Mavericks. Jose Calderon, obtained in the Chandler trade, hasn't been the upgrade from Raymond Felton he was expected to be. Center Samuel Dalembert is playing only 17.4 minutes per game and hasn't made much of an impact defensively.

Players have said they're committed to the triangle, but if they don't see positive results soon, there could be even more cracks and fracturing, arguments and team meetings. But Fisher remains undaunted.

"I've been in these locker rooms for a long time," Fisher said. "I've been on teams where it's all good, been on teams where it's not all good at times. But the common ground that kind of binds everybody together is just being committed to winning.

"We all have some issues with things we don't like. But if you just keep winning on your mind when you're out there on the floor, it kind of simplifies things."

The players probably are wondering when that winning is going to start.


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