In the New York Knicks regular season opener Derek Fisher and his new-look squad routed the Milwaukee Bucks 122-97.
After falling behind 11-4 early, the Knicks came together and played the kind of fast-paced, unselfish style of basketball that D-Fish hopes to see from his team throughout the regular season.
“You get off to a rough start on the road on opening night, very high energy, but the guys just kind of relaxed and fought their way back into it in the first quarter,” Fisher said. “I thought that’s what gave us a chance.”
The depth of the Knicks was on full display Wednesday as the bench outscored the starters 73-49 and proved to be capable group for Fisher to utilize with confidence.
The Knicks had seven different players in double figures with Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, Sasha Vujacic, Derrick Williams, Langston Galloway, Lance Thomas, and Jerian Grant all reaching the mark. Out of the seven players in double figures, four came from off the bench. The contributions the Knicks received from the top of their roster down to the bottom had D-fish optimistic about the spark his second unit can provide.
“They have a comfort level and a trust with each other, even though it’s early, but I think that showed tonight. It doesn’t happen that way every night but it was definitely a good start,” Fisher said.
A lot of attention going into this game was how the rookie Porzingis would perform in his first regular season game. The big-man lived up to his expectations and finished the night tied for second on the team in scoring with 16 points. Porzingis also came away from five rebounds, a blocked shot and a steal while going 1-of-2 from beyond the arc.
The talented rookie started the game and logged 24 minutes of action while looking like he could be one of the focal points for the Knicks offense this season. D-Fish really like what he saw from Kristaps game, especially in the sense that he can have an impact on the game in so many different ways after going 9-of-12 from the free-throw line
“I think any time that he’s on the floor really good things can happen. He’s really versatile on both ends. He changes shots defensively. He rebounds the ball well when he’s around the paint. Offensively he can do a lot of things,” D-Fish said of the No. 4 overall draft pick. “His level of aggression though is remarkable.”
Carmelo had a mediocre night offensively is his season debut, scoring only 11 points and going 4-of-16 shooting. Although this was considered a bit of an off night for Melo, Fisher still thought he was making the right decisions with the basketball and did a good job finding his teammates when he was double-teamed. Melo finished the night chipping in five assists.
“[I liked] most of them,” Fisher said when asked about how he felt about some of the shots Carmelo was taking. “He was trying to hit the home run and hit them with the knockout punch but I thought he made the right plays really most of times he touched the basketball. [Milwaukee] was really aggressive putting two guys on him, loading up behind him, and he was finding open teammates and making the right passes.”
O’Quinn and Galloway both had great nights coming off the bench. O’Quinn led the team in rebounds with 11 and also added eight points and a few assists. Galloway couldn’t seem to miss as he recorded 16 points while going 4-of-5 from three-point land.
In Jerian Grant’s first regular season game he also found a way to contribute to the Knicks well-rounded effort. Grant scored 10 points and also was tied for the team lead with five assists. Grant also pestered the Bucks on the defensive end, as he led the team with three steals.
Williams picked up right where he left of this preseason with another impressive offensive outing. Coming off the bench, Williams scored 24 points to lead all players and also recorded seven rebounds. Williams has been a pleasant surprise for the Fisher and the Knicks this year and his energy and offensive upside are forcing the Knicks to carve out a role for him even, if involves him coming off the bench. Although Williams didn’t start the contest, he still logged 21 minutes of action.
“I think he’s just playing the game and trusting his instincts even though he’s still learning a lot of new things in terms of how we play and what we want him to do,” Fisher said. “He’s shooting the ball well…he had a really good preseason, this was obviously a really good night for him tonight and for our team.”
The Knicks will have to shift gears quickly after their impressive opener with the second-leg of their back-to-back to start the season slated to tip off tomorrow back at Madison Square Garden against the Atlanta Hawks. .
The game will start at 8 p.m. ET and will be aired on TNT.