LOS ANGELES - Phil Jackson promised "a better 2015 than 14" to his Twitter followers last week. It can't possibly be worse.
The Knicks ended 2014 in familiar fashion, getting crushed 99-78 by the Clippers at Staples Center on New Year's Eve. It was the Knicks ninth straight defeat and 19th in 20 games. They have won just once since Nov. 23.
No one expected the Knicks to be this bad. They're 5-29, and have three more losses than the Philadelphia 76ers.
Jackson certainly has his work cut out for him to change things for the Knicks. They have been looking to make trades, but not many of their players have much value. The Knicks will have a high draft pick and they're banking on being able to sign some stars in the summer.
They have nine players in the last years of their deals and could have up to 11 free agents. But Jackson has said he's concerned that the Knicks' record and performance could impact their ability to sign marquee free agents.
With Jackson looking on from the stands in the first half and a luxury box in the second, the Knicks played another mostly non-competitive game.
The Clippers led by 10 at the half, and started the third quarter on a 13-0 run to take a 63-50 lead. The Knicks shot just 5-for-17 with four turnovers, and scored 16 points. The Knicks got no closer than 16 the rest of the way.
J.R. Smith's return after missing 10 straight games due to a partial tear of the plantar fascia in his left foot and Andrea Bargnani's first game since Jan. 22 couldn't lift the Knicks.
Carmelo Anthony scored 19 points in three quarters of action. Bargnani shot 4-for-11 and scored nine points in 20 minutes. Smith was 3-for-10 with seven points in 17 minutes.
This was a game Clippers All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin never got going offensively. Paul didn't score his first points until 8:38 was remaining in the third quarter. But they both did a good job of setting up their teammates.
Griffin finished 6-for-16 with 13 points and 11 assists. Paul was just 2-for-11 with five points and eight assists. J.J. Redick led the Clippers (22-11) with 20 points. DeAndre Jordan shot 6-for-6 and had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Bargnani entered the game with 5:24 left in the first quarter and the Knicks down 19-11. The Clippers went right at him and Blake Griffin scored his first points of the game. But the Knicks made a little run with Bargnani, closing to within three late in the quarter. Bargnani had four points.
It was a four-point game at the end of the first quarter. But the Knicks could get no closer despite Paul not scoring and Griffin totaling just four points in the first half.
After a Cole Aldrich hook shot made it 38-34, the Clippers scored eight unanswered to take their biggest lead of the half, 46-34 with 3:26 left. Anthony scored the Knicks' last six points, but the Knicks were down 50-40 at halftime.
The Knicks opened the third by missing their first seven shots. Jose Calderon ended the drought with a jump shot with 6:28, cutting the Clippers lead to 63-42. It started a 9-0 Knicks run. But they made just two field goals over the last 5:20 of the third quarter and trailed 74-58 heading to the fourth.