The New York Knicks are going through a tough stretch of games, but Derek Fisher hopes his squad can learn from its mistakes and work to right the ship this month after struggling to find much consistency in November.
On Wednesday the Knicks couldn’t find much momentum in their Thanksgiving Eve contest against the Orlando Magic as they lost 100-91, and over the weekend Fisher and Co. fell to the Miami Heat and the Houston Rockets.
The Knicks had won four straight games, including road victory in Houston, but they’ve since lost four in a row. After Wednesday night’s loss to the Magic, Derek explained how his team can’t put forth streaky performances—instead they must be consistent through all four quarters to win.
“We couldn’t sustain any level of thrust, force and intensity throughout the game. There were times where we had on group on the floor that was maybe doing okay and then as we got through rotations and substitutions we couldn’t sustain it,” Fisher said. “We just couldn’t put together a full game tonight.”
Carmelo Anthony led the way on offense for the Knicks against the Magic as he finished the contest with a game-high 28 points to go along with 12 boards and three assists. Melo was feeling it from long range too as he drained 3-of-4 attempts from beyond the arc. Jose Caledon also had a nice night offensively as he scored 23 points which were the most for the veteran in a Knicks uniform.
D-Fish has liked what he has seen out of his veteran players like Calderon and Melo, but he is also focusing on getting the younger guys and some of the second unit to find ways to contribute every night on a consistent basis. A combination of good play from the veterans and the young players on this team will be imperative to its success down the stretch.
“You’re seeing our veteran guys start to find ways to be consistent and provide us with something each night,” D-Fish explained. “It’s my job and our job to find ways to make sure that our bench guys, our younger guys that are maybe in their first year here, find ways to help them be successful out there so they can give us something every night.”
After the game Fisher also gave credit where credit was due in praising Orlando’s defense in making it hard for his team to score points. He cited that everyone had to work for their points and that impacted the Knicks ability to find momentum in their game.
“Everybody had to work hard tonight. Orlando’s a good defensive team. They made us work for everything that we got there and that’s what made the game really tough for us to sustain any type of momentum,” Derek said.
On Friday night against the Heat, the Knicks had a difficult time figuring out Miami’s defense for the second time this season. Fisher’s squad was able to get off to a good start, but poor play to close out the half bled into the third quarter and the Knicks had a tough time getting back into the game at that point.
“They’re good defensively, big up front and really make it tough for you to do the things that you like to do. I thought we put together a much better half than we did in Miami in the first half tonight doing some really good things,” Fisher said. “We didn’t finish the second quarter the right way and it just kind of continued into the start of the third quarter and we never could get it back.”
Melo started off the night looking good as he made four of his first five shots, but couldn’t get into a rhythm after that as he missed his next eight attempts from the field. Fisher said after the game there were a lot of positives to take away from the first quarter and a half, but it was the Knicks play down the stretch that sealed their fate against Miami.
“I thought the success that we had in the first half, in particular the first 18 to 20 minutes of the first half there was a fluidity to the game, there was a continuity to what was happening, we had multiple guys contributing, ball moving and I thought that was why we were able to put together a good half against a really good defensive team,” Fisher said. “As the game went on we got stagnant and started trying to force the action as the defense ramped up instead of allowing it to happen for ourselves offensively.”
Melo and Kristaps Porzingis were the Knicks highest scorers in the contest with 11 points each in the low scoring affair for New York. Kevin Seraphin was a bright spot off the bench as he contributed with ten points, three rebounds and an assist in 17 minutes of action. D-Fish has taken notice to the solid play from Seraphin and in the Knicks game against the Rockets on Sunday, he was heavily utilized by Fisher.
After the game, Fisher said that the 31 minutes Seraphin saw on the court against Houston was in part due to the flow of the game and how he chooses to utilize the big men on his roster. Seraphin got the majority of the minutes over the usual starter Roblin Lopez, who only played for 14 minutes on Sunday night. If the game was any indication, Fisher may have certain situations where he wants to utilize Seraphin in the future after he is starting to earn the trust of his coach and teammates.
“Kevin did a lot of really good things for us tonight. I think he’s getting more comfortable being on this team and understanding what it is we’re asking our big guys to do offensively and defensively,” D-Fish explained. “The plan wasn’t to play Robin 14 minutes and Kevin 31 but that’s what the game dictated and that was the decision.”
Seraphin finished the game with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists. He was also a force on defense as the big man recorded four blocked shots in the contest. Arron Afflalo had a terrific night shooting and finished with 31 points to lead both teams in scoring. Porzingis had a solid night as well as he recoded his eighth double-double of the season with a 20 point, 13 rebound performance.
The Knicks were in control for much of the game, leading by 13 at halftime. They took the lead on an Afflalo three-pointer late in the first quarter and held it all the way until Marcus Thornton hit the game-tying three with 32.2 seconds left on the clock to force overtime.
The absence of Anthony, who sat with an illness, was apparent late in the contest. The teams went back-and-forth in the extra period, but New York’s shots simply didn’t fall over the final minute and Houston escaped MSG with a victory.
Fisher and Co. will look to put a halt to their four-game losing streak when they take on the Philadelphia 76ers at home this Wednesday.
The Sixers are still winless on the year so D-Fish’s Knicks will look to avoid giving Philly its first win.
Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. EST from Madison Square Garden and will be aired on MSG.