Sour start at home has Knicks upset


NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks haven't been enjoying home cooking so far this season at Madison Square Garden.

In fact, their 2-3 start is their worst in the last three years. Last season the Knicks opened with 12 consecutive home victories. Two years ago they won their first three. Then after losing to the Lakers, they reeled off 26 in a row at the Garden.

As expected, the start doesn't sit well with coach Stu Jackson, whose team plays host to the Milwaukee Bucks today.

"It's important that we start to establish ourselves at home," Jackson said Friday after practice. "Winning at home in the NBA is very important."

Jackson, whose team is coming off Tuesday night's embarrassing 115-88 home loss to the Houston Rockets, isn't worried yet. But, on the other hand, Jackson said he will start to feel uneasy if the trend continues.

"I'm not overly worried right now," said Jackson, whose team is 1-1 on its current four-game homestand. "If we aren't playing well again at home against Milwaukee, I'd be a little bit more concerned."

Other than their 106-79 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers last Saturday night, the Knicks haven't looked too good at home. Their other victory was a workmanlike victory over the Washington Bullets. And in their three losses, they blew huge leads twice -- to the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks -- and were never in the game against Houston.

"We're obviously not doing too well right now," guard Gerald Wilkins said. "I don't know what the problem may be as far as why we're starting off so good on the road [4-1] and not playing so well at home."

Most players totally dismiss the fans when it comes to winning or losing, but not Wilkins. "A lot of guys think too much when we play at the Garden," he said. "Especially because the fans are so iffy.

"On most home courts, their fans are helping. Sometimes, our fans hurt us. They really do, and that's where a problem comes in."

Nevertheless, the problem has to end soon, according to forward Kiki Vandeweghe.

"You have to win at home," he said. "Everybody knows how you have to win at least 50 percent of your games on the road and you have to win most of them at home.

"People can't come into your home court and beat you. We haven't done it [establish themselves] this year yet. I'm not sure why."

Whatever the case, forward Brian Quinnett said the time to turn things around is now.

"A lot of teams have established themselves at home," Quinnett said. "Even Minnesota."

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