After winning a second straight NBA title in 2016, the New York Knicks remain on a roll after a 6-0 start.
The Knicks won seven straight games to close the regular season before being swept in six games by the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.
They also beat the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday in overtime.
Now it’s time for the rest of the Eastern Conference to find their footing and find some peace.
“We’re going to have to win our next four games.
We’re just trying to win now,” forward Kristaps Porzingis said.
“The next three games are important for us.
We need to get this thing going, we need to be competitive and win.”
The Knicks went 9-3 last season and won the East.
But they’re 6-11 since that season and have dropped eight straight games in the playoffs.
Porzinges said he’s frustrated by the loss of Carmelo Anthony, who had been their most valuable player and who signed with Golden State after leaving the Knicks.
“It’s a huge loss for us because he was one of our best players,” Porzingus said.
Anthony averaged 21.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists last season, but has not played since Dec. 18 after suffering a fractured right hand.
“That was just an accident.
That was the last thing he wanted to do.
I’m just sorry that he’s not here to play,” Porzs said.
The Nuggets are still a game behind the Knicks for the final playoff spot in the West.
Denver is playing without two starters and two key players in Emmanuel Mudiay and Jokic, who are recovering from back surgeries.
The Lakers are also in a tough spot with Kobe Bryant out for the season because of a stress fracture in his left knee.
The team is 1-3 without Bryant, who has missed nine of the past 11 games with a stress reaction in his right knee.
Bryant, the league’s reigning MVP, has been sidelined for five straight games with an ankle injury.
“I’m not playing.
I can’t play.
I have to take care of my family and I have a lot of things I need to do,” Bryant said.
Memphis has won eight straight against the Knicks, who lost four of their past five games.
The Grizzlies beat New Orleans by 21 points on Wednesday and are 9-5 since losing Bryant.
“When he goes out, he’s gonna be fine,” forward Zach Randolph said of Bryant.
Rookie center Matt Barnes has scored 18 points and shot 4 of 16 from the field in his first six games.
Memphis led the NBA in offensive rebounds for the first time in eight games and had held the Knicks to just 39.8 percent shooting.
Anthony had 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting against the Lakers on Dec. 17.
Anthony’s back injury will be evaluated by the league office on Monday, but his status for Wednesday’s game against Oklahoma City is uncertain.
He has played in two games for the Lakers, averaging 8.3 points on 40.3 percent shooting and 4 assists in 18.4 minutes.
He was also the Lakers’ only All-Star game participant in 2016.