|Knicks hope Miller can help end losing skid vs. Blazers|
The New York Knicks lost by just a single point in interim coach Mike Miller's first game on the job.
That doesn't seem so bad when you consider the club lost by 44 and 37 in David Fizdale's last two contests before being dismissed.
Miller seeks his first NBA coaching victory and the Knicks attempt to halt a nine-game skid when they visit the struggling Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.
Miller, a former college and G League head coach, got the Knicks to play well in his debut on Saturday night before they succumbed 104-103 to the visiting Indiana Pacers. Knicks forward Julius Randle split two free throws with 0.1 seconds to play as New York came up short.
"You get in those games, you've got to make another play, and we just didn't make another play," Miller said afterward. "Loved the effort. That was fun."
Fun hasn't often been a word used to describe anything about the Knicks, who own the worst record in the NBA at 4-19.
New York has lost seven games by 20 or more points and hasn't notched a victory since defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers on Nov. 18.
The stop in Portland is the first of a road trip in which the Knicks play four games in six nights. Games against the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings and Denver Nuggets follow.
Miller is hoping the club can stem periods of inconsistency that plague its chances of recording victories.
"Our focus has been on the consistency on both ends of the floor, that's where it's at," Miller said. "The players, we have a high character group of players, they're professional, they come in and work every day. The message is we want to be more consistent. And we're going to be more consistent in what we do and how we work play to play and possession to possession."
The Trail Blazers have problems of their own as they have lost three of four games and rank as one of the league's biggest underachievers with a 9-15 record after reaching the Western Conference finals last season.
Their troubles continued on Sunday night when they took a 108-96 home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Portland shot just 36 percent from the field, including 9 of 33 from 3-point range, in a game in which it was outhustled by the Thunder. Making it more maddening to star point guard Damian Lillard is that the Trail Blazers previously defeated Oklahoma City twice this season, including a solid 136-119 home win on Nov. 27.
"I just thought our urgency wasn't where it needed to be," Lillard said afterward. "You come out with an opportunity to get some momentum going into another home game with another opportunity to win against a team that we just played a few games ago and blew them away, played a great game.
"Then the ball's not going in, so we don't lock in and stay sharp on the defensive end. We just allowed them to do pretty much what they wanted."
Lillard scored 26 points, but he was one of the cold shooters, going 8 of 24 from the field, including 2 of 12 from 3-point range.
Forward Carmelo Anthony shot 4 of 18 while scoring nine points, guard Kent Bazemore was 3 of 11 while also scoring nine points and shooting guard CJ McCollum made 8 of 21 shots while tallying 20 points.
There is plenty of time for the Trail Blazers to turn things around, but there are some team habits that Lillard doesn't like.
"I think we kind of just play well in stretches, and we don't really have the luxury of playing well in stretches," Lillard said. "We're a team that if the ball's not going in, we gotta be getting to the 50-50 balls, we can't be letting teams get second and third opportunities. We foul every 30 seconds.
"I mean, we are doing a lot of things as a team that are putting us at a disadvantage."
Portland has fared well against the Knicks of late, winning the past five meetings.
--Field Level Media