Derek Fisher’s squad had a tremendous start, but they couldn’t hold off the NBA’s top player down the stretch.
The New York Knicks (2-3) exploded out to a 32-18 lead after the first quarter, and they led the Cleveland Cavaliers early in the fourth. However, 11 fourth-quarter points from LeBron James were too much to overcome, and they fell 96-86. James dished to Kevin Love for a dagger three-pointer late, as the Cavs stars close it out—something Fish’s Knicks squad will look to figure out as it continues to develop chemistry.
“In the close games we’ve had a couple chances to get some wins,” Fisher said. “Playing from behind on the road after getting off to a good start, we weren’t able to complete it tonight but we’ll have to learn how to do that collectively as a team.”
Though the Knicks fell by 10, they preformed very well overall against the defending Eastern Conference champions. The Knicks led by as many as 15 points early in the game and at moments they were in total control, which was largely credited to the strong play of their second unit who used their speed and defense to hold LeBron James to only four points in each of the first three quarters.
Kristaps Porzingis had one the best games out of the Knicks starting group with 14 points, four boards and a couple blocks in 20 minutes of action. Porzingis also made a similar play to the put-back dunk he wowed with on Wednesday against the Washington Wizards. Late in the second quarter Porzingis threw down a vicious alley oop over Kevin Love that was one of the best offensive plays of the night for New York.
Porzingis got into foul trouble early, but Fisher is still confident the Latvian rookie with get more comfortable as the season progresses and he gets more used to his matchups.
“Every night he’s seeing a really great player at his position and that’s though to do. Hopefully as we play teams once in one week, and then we see the same team the next week, he’ll be more comfortable and be able to anticipate things better,” D-Fish said.
Langston Galloway was also one of the bright spots for the Knicks on Wednesday night. Each of the three-pointers he hit either tied the game or extended the Knicks lead. He has been perhaps the most consistent spark plug coming off the Fish’s bench, both offensively and defensively. Galloway finished the game with 12 points, four boards, and two steals in 28 minutes of action while going 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.
Carmelo Anthony got off to a cold start early in the game, shooting 2-of-8 from the floor in the first half, but eventually found his shot in the third quarter with eight points in the first five minutes. Melo ended up posting the only double-double of the night for the Knicks, as he finished the night 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Sasha Vujacic played a big role in the Knicks first half success against the Cavs. He ended the night with nine points and four rebounds while picking up the slack when the New York struggled to find its shot. In the second quarter, Vujacic snapped a 4:15 stretch for the Knicks without a field goal with a smooth driving layup. After the game D-Fish reiterated that he has confidence that any player on his team can get the job done when their number is called.
“I thought Sasha was solid tonight as well at times and got us off to a good start. Any guy we put out there is capable of getting the job done,” Derek said.
These types of loses can make it tough to refocus, but Fisher ensures that his squad will maintain its confidence as they learn how to play with each other and work out the early season kinks. The only thing they can do now is shift their focus to Milwaukee and try to get back on track.
“We have to continue to trust in who we are and what we can do and not allow setbacks tonight that can become so frustrating in the early parts of the season,” Fisher said. “This is game number five, we’re still forming and developing into a team…we don’t like to lose but we will still get better from this.”
D-Fish and Co. are slated to be back at home this Friday to take on the Milwaukee Bucks for the second time this season after handing them a 122-97 loss in the season opener.
New York will look to get back to .500 on the young season and build off of the success they had over the Bucks last week. Milwaukee is coming off a 91-87 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.
The game is scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m. ET from Madison Square Garden and will be broadcasted on MSG.