After an impressive regular season opener Derek Fisher’s New York Knicks couldn’t keep pace with the Hawks as they split the first back-to-back of the season.
The Knicks fell to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference from a year ago, the Atlanta Hawks, 112-110 in their home opener in front of an excited Madison Square Garden crowd. D-Fish hopes his squad can use the game as a learning experience and get back on track before they take on the Washington Wizards this Saturday.
“We saw the difference between the level[the Hawks] are right now and were we are right now and we’ll have to learn from it as we go forward,” Fisher said.
Having the young guys like Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant get experience against good teams like the Hawks is crucial when it comes to their development in Fisher’s opinion. Porzingis started the game and recorded ten points, eight rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot in 26 minutes of action. Grant came off the bench but still logged 29 minutes of action. He finished the contest with five points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
“[Atlanta’s] guards are real good. So I think you find out quickly that nights like tonight are not easy,” Fisher explained. “Kris is learning how to defend and how to play offensively against different guys…he’ll learn those things as he goes through.”
Robin Lopez was one of the Knicks starters to have an all-around solid performance in Thursday’s game against the Hawks. Lopez was on fire in the paint, knocking down 8 of his 11 field goal attempts and racking up 18 points in the process. The big-man also came down with four rebounds and a blocked shot. There were all positive signs from Lopez last night, which bodes well for New York after his slow start in the preseason and last night in the opener.
Carmelo Anthony led the team in scoring on Thursday night with 25 points. However, he only hit 10 out of his 27 field goal attempts in the game, which brings up the question if he is getting the shots he wants. Fish commented after the game tha the isn’t too concerned with Melo’s field goal percentage, as long as it can help the Knicks’ win percentage go up.
“If you look at the percentages [Melo] was shooting when the preseason started, it’s hard to imagine any guy being able to sustain that,” D-Fish said. “Percentage wise he didn’t shoot the ball well tonight or last night but I just think we have to continue to get to a point where we’re okay with just the winning percentage, it’s not about anybody’s individual field goal percentage.”
After a scoring outburst from Derrick Williams in the preseason and in the opener against the Milwaukee Bucks, he cooled off last night with a line of nine points and two rebounds. Kyle O’Quinn continued to be a double-double machine off the bench with ten points and ten boards.
Langston Galloway continued to show that he is one of the best shooters on the Knicks from beyond the arc going 2-of-4 last night and scoring eight points in 25 minutes of action. Galloway also chipped in with and four rebounds and three assists.
D-Fish knows that, with his new group of players, it will take time to get to where they want to be as everyone learns how to play together as a unit and compete and against more experienced teams in the Eastern Conference. He is confident that as the season progresses the Knicks will make strides in the right direction.
“Being good takes time. It’s a process. Being great is not easy. We played against a team that was in the Eastern Conference Finals last year,” Fisher said, “We weren’t ready for it but we will be one day.”
Next up, the Knicks will back on the road in Washington D.C. to take on the Wizards (1-0) at the Verizon Center. This will be the second consecutive playoff team from a year ago for New York.
The Knicks will look to right the ship after being swept in four games by the Wiz last season. Washington is 1-0 after edging the Magic 88-87 on opening night. The Wizards will take on the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, putting them on night No. 2 of a back-to-back when Fish’s crew comes to town.
The game will tip off at 7 p.m. EST and be aired on MSG.