NEW ORLEANS - Carmelo Anthony doesn't think the Knicks have a losing mentality, but he said they are playing not to lose rather than to win.
The Knicks enter Tuesday night's game against the Pelicans having lost eight straight and with a franchise-worst 4-18 mark. It prompted team president Phil Jackson to say the Knicks have "a loser's mentality" Monday afternoon.
Anthony, who says he doesn't read the papers, said it was brought to his attention what Jackson said. Overall, it didn't seem the Knicks were bothered by Jackson's assessment as much as they are by their record.
"I don't like to lose," Anthony said before the morning shootaround. "I don't like to see us sitting at 4-18 right now.
"Loser's mentality, I think a lot of people will kind of decipher that in their own different ways. You ask 10 people, you're going to get 10 different opinions of what that means. I know we don't have a losing mentality. I just know that when you're losing basketball games, it's easier to figure out how not to lose than it is how to win games."
The Knicks have shown resilience by erasing large deficits in many of their games, but they can't finish. Their last four defeats have been by 12 points total. They have lost nine games by five points or less and 13 of their losses have been by an average of three points.
"We're allowing ourselves to be boxed in to where the team used to be," first-year coach Derek Fisher said. "This is a new beginning of something new. We're establishing a completely new way of playing basketball and building a new team in terms of how we want to be New York Knicks.
"In terms of loser's mentality: carrying the old into the new instead of just embracing the new. We're starting from zero in terms of how to build a basketball team and how to build the type of habits that don't allow you to win every now and then but become a team that every season, every week, every month you're going to be one of the best teams on the floor."
Jackson also said the Knicks have had "resistance to discipline and order and culture change."
Fisher said change is "tough for anybody." Anthony said it's hard to stay positive when the losing continues.
"I think it's natural to get down and get upset and get frustrated when you're losing basketball games," Anthony said. "That's just who we are as competitors and as athletes. We're going to get mad and we're going to get upset when you lose basketball games. You're going to get upset when you see 4-18 on the record. That becomes natural as a competitor.
"We just can't allow that to seep in and every time we lose a game everybody's getting down and angry and upset and frustrated and it carries over to the next game and the next game. That's something that can't happen."