The struggling New York Knicks are falling further out of playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. While a five-game road trip might not help matters, starting it against the New Jersey Nets could.
The Knicks look to avoid losing their sixth straight road game Sunday when they visit the slumping Nets for the second time this season.
New York (25-36) is in 13th place in the East, but only three games behind eighth-place Chicago and 1 1/2 games behind the Nets (27-35) for 11th. The Knicks, though, have dropped four of their last five and are 4-11 since Feb. 2.
They fell 114-105 at home to Charlotte on Saturday. Al Harrington scored 24 points and Nate Robinson added 20 for New York, but the Bobcats shot 55.4 percent and became the 16th Knicks opponent out of the last 17 to surpass 100 points.
"I didn't think our energy was very good," New York coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It is a skill to play hard. We have to either acquire the skill or learn how to do it or something. We did not come out like a playoff game, that this really meant the season more or less. It doesn't, but we should have had that attitude; didn't do it, disappointing but we got one tomorrow."
The Knicks now begin a five-game road trip while the Big East tournament takes over Madison Square Garden. New York has lost five straight away from home, although one of those defeats came in overtime and two others were decided by a combined six points.
The Knicks will face four opponents from the East during this trip - New Jersey (27-35), Milwaukee, Detroit and Cleveland - all of which are ahead of the Knicks in the standings. They also visit Minnesota before returning home March 18 to face the Nets again.
New York has won four of its last five against New Jersey, the most recent a 121-109 victory at the Izod Center on Dec. 10, when Harrington had 39 points.
The Nets are also stumbling, losing three of four and eight of 11.
New Jersey's last three defeats came against winning clubs - New Orleans, Boston and Orlando. The Nets led by eight with 7:26 to play Friday in Orlando, but couldn't hold on and fell 105-102 to the Magic on Friday.
Devin Harris had 25 points and nine assists to lead New Jersey. Vince Carter added 19 points, but missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer as time expired.
"We put ourselves in a position to win and we didn't ... so there is no true silver lining," coach Lawrence Frank said. "This is going to be a battle of persistence and we just have to continue to fight." Harris is averaging 28.1 points and 9.9 assists in his last seven games. He scored 32 points against the Knicks in December