The New York Knicks’ franchise-record 17th straight loss might have been the toughest one to take.
The Knicks erased a 17-point deficit in the second half and had several chances to take the lead or tie the game in the final minute before falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers 107-104 on Monday night.
“It’s incredibly hard,” said guard Dennis Smith Jr. “No one wants to lose, especially 17 in a row. Tonight would’ve been major for us if we’d have pulled it out.”
Collin Sexton, who led Cleveland with 20 points, hit two free throws with 17 seconds remaining to put the Cavaliers up by three.
John Jenkins missed a 3-pointer from the right corner, but Smith grabbed the rebound and dribbled to the left corner. He also missed a 3-pointer and Larry Nance Jr. tapped the rebound to midcourt as time ran out.
Luke Kornet, who hit a pair of 3-pointers down the stretch, missed a wide-open 3 with 21 seconds remaining that would have put the Knicks ahead.
“When you’ve got a chance at the end, if you don’t win, it hurts,” coach David Fizdale said. “We had a shot — actually two — and we got the look we wanted. It just didn’t go down. And before that, we got a real good look from one of our best shooters in Kornet.”
Kevin Knox scored 13 points while DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and 10 rebounds for New York.
Both teams are in the running for a prime spot in the draft lottery, which takes place May 14. The three worst teams in the league will have a 14 percent chance of getting the first pick in the draft and a shot at grabbing Duke center Zion Williamson.
Phoenix (11-47) and Chicago (13-44) are also possibilities for a top-three pick.
The Cavaliers led wire-to-wire and jumped to an 8-0 lead, leading Fizdale to use a timeout less than 90 seconds into the game. The Knicks, who traded injured star Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas on Jan. 31, have their longest skid within one season. New York lost 20 in a row over two seasons, March 23-Nov. 9, 1985.
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