By Santosh Venkataraman
(AP) — The New York Knicks ended a 10-game road losing streak against the Los Angeles Clippers last season. Winning at Staples Center could be easier this time around.
The Knicks will look for their first three-game winning streak of the season Saturday night when they try to hand the league-worst Clippers a ninth straight loss.
New York (5-8) beat Los Angeles (1-12) for the first time at Staples Center with a 113-107 victory April 4. The Knicks’ two leading scorers in that game – David Lee and Al Harrington – are no longer with the team, as they made a major offseason overhaul with the additions of Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton.
Felton scored a career-high 35 points and handed out 11 assists while Stoudemire had 26 and 11 rebounds in Friday’s 125-119 victory at Golden State. New York lost its sixth straight in Denver on Tuesday to start this four-game trip before beating Sacramento and the Warriors to notch consecutive wins for the second time.
“We’ve got an opportunity to make this a special trip,” Stoudemire said. “After the slow start, we’re starting to get our momentum, starting to get our swagger and our identity, (figure out) what type of team we are. And in the process, we’re getting a few.
“So if we can go into L.A. and get this win, it’ll be a great trip for us and we’ll be on the right track.”
Los Angeles is without its top two scorers from its last meeting against New York. Chris Kaman is out with a sprained left ankle and Baron Davis has a sore left knee.
The lack of experience has been a major factor for a team seeking to avoid its first nine-game slide since dropping 12 in a row from Dec. 20, 2008-Jan. 14, 2009.
“We need to get some guys back to get some help,” first-year Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “They’re double-teaming Blake (Griffin). We’re not making them pay for that at times.”
Griffin will likely match up with Stoudemire as he endures a rough stretch in his rookie season, averaging 14.7 points over the last six games.
“Something’s got to change,” Griffin said. “We have to keep working, but we can’t just keep working and keep losing. A lot of times, it’s not even the physical stuff. It comes down to who wants it more. We need to find that.”
The Clippers return home after a 107-80 loss at Indiana on Thursday. They started three rookies – Griffin, Al-Farouq Aminu and Eric Bledsoe – and the oldest was 22-year old DeAndre Jordan.
“We’re close to a lot of these teams that we’re playing,” said leading scorer Eric Gordon, averaging 23.2 points. “But it seems like we let teams off the hook some times. Yeah, we’re a young team. Just have to keep trying to find a way to get us some wins.”
No team has shot more 3-pointers than New York’s 315. Those shots should be fairly open against a Clippers defense that ranks last in the NBA in allowing opponents to shoot 43.8 percent from beyond the arc.
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