The New York Knicks were able to keep pace with the San Antonio Spurs going into the fourth quarter only down 70-65, but Derek Fisher and his squad couldn’t find a way to close it out against its veteran opponent.
The Knicks fell to the Spurs 94-84 on Monday night but D-Fish was pleased with his team’s overall effort as they were able to hang with one of the best teams in the league. Derek was impressed that his team was able to keep it close against the Spurs and at one point, cut the lead to four in the fourth quarter. He still acknowledged that there will be a lot work to going forward and against teams like the Spurs, the effort level needs to be top-notch.
“I thought overall our effort was okay,” Fisher said. “There were times where we weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be defensively. We’re not good enough to just play solid effort, we have to play maximum effort every time we touch the floor, and we couldn’t put together enough of it tonight.”
Fisher liked how big-men like Robin Lopez and Kristaps Porzingis were performing in the paint from an offensive standpoint, but he still feels like there is work to do on the defensive end of the floor when it comes to keeping opposition out of the paint.
“We’re getting to the free-throw line at a pretty decent rate and I think that’s because we’ve been getting to the paint. We have some big guys that have big bodies and they’re creating foul situations, getting offensive rebounds that are getting us extra possessions, so we’re doing okay[offensively in the paint],” Derek said. “We didn’t defend the paint well tonight and I think that was more important than whether or not we could get there at the level we’d like to.”
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks in scoring with 19 points while drawing an extremely tough matchup being guarded by two-way stud, Kawhi Leonard. Anthony was held to only four field goals and he did the majority of his damage from the free throw line, going 10-of-12 on the night. Melo also finished the game with seven rebounds and a couple steals in 35 minutes of action.
Towards the end of the game, the Knicks were dealt a scary blow when Anthony tripped over his teammate and landed on Porzingis’ head. It is reported that Porzingis suffered a sprained neck after the postgame x-rays came back negative.
Before Porzingis left late in the game with a neck injury, he had put together his best all-around performance of the season with 13 points, 14 rebounds and a couple blocks in 24 minutes of action. Lopez chipped in as well with ten points and five boards in 32 minutes of action. Lopez and Porzingis were two of the four Knicks to reach double-digit points in the contest. He also threw down a vicious putback dunk.
ICYMI: This happened last night… https://t.co/xnTXCeCnMq
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) November 3, 2015
D-Fish thinks that having his young players like Porzingis gain experience against talented opponents, like San Antonio’s Tim Duncan and LaMarcus Aldridge, early in the season will bode well for their development.
“I think for Kris and all of our group, playing against the types of teams we’re playing against to start the season out is going to force you to go to another level otherwise you’ll get embarrassed,” explained Fisher. “I thought Kris was an example of how guys are competing and fighting hard.”
Jerian Grant also impressed on Monday night recording 12 points, four rebounds and three assists off the bench. D-Fish says that the young guys like Porzingis, Grant and Langston Galloway have been showing flashes of their high-potentials, but as the case with all young players, there are going to ups and downs.
“He was solid. All rookies will have moments when they look like rookies and other moments where they look like the future and I thought we saw both of those things from Jerian tonight just like we saw from Kristaps and Langston…you always will from young players,” Derek said. “He was doing a lot of good things for us but there’s still a lot of things that young players have to learn.”
Fisher and the Knicks will travel to Cleveland to face the defending Eastern Conference Champs and LeBron James on Wednesday. This will be first of two matchups against the Cavs within the span of a couple weeks as the Knicks are also slated to play LeBron and Co. next Friday.
The contest will mark the fifth consecutive game the Knicks will be playing against a playoff team from a year ago. D-Fish and the Knicks went 1-2 against the Cavs last season, winning their first game against them 95-90 and dropping the next two 90-87 and 101-83. This revamped Knicks offense will look to make a statement that they can compete with the best teams in the Eastern Conference on a nationally televised stage.
The game is scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. ET and will be aired on ESPN and MSG.