After four tough losses, all the New York Knicks needed to do was find a way to win Wednesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Derek Fisher’s squad did just that, taking a 23-point lead into the fourth quarter and cruising to a 99-87 victory. Coach Fish gave a State of the Knicks type address after the game, talking about the team’s outlook after snapping the recent skid. He was happy with the way his team responded to the rough patch, but he recognizes the work that needs to be done on order to improve and find more consistency.
“It’s easy for us to get down on the guys and question certain things but the reality is you go out there and win and they did that,” Fisher said. “We’ll just keep working to get better.”
Kristaps Porzingis had a big night against the Sixers. He finished with double-double, leading the team with 17 points to go along with ten boards, two assists and four blocked shots. Porzingis was also feeling it from downtown. The star rookie drained both of his three-point attempts in the contest. The solid two-way performance had Fisher encouraged. He is especially impressed with how well Kristaps has been handling playing at the NBA level from a mental standpoint.
“It’s a hard thing to do but I see he’s just fully present. Even though he’s making mistakes like all players make, he’s completely wrapped up in the game that particular night,” D-Fish said. “What happened the last game is not in his mind. Who we play the next day doesn’t seem to be in his mind. He’s just playing the game that’s in front of him at that time and that’s a difficult thing to do for players because there’s so many variables and distractions but for a young guy he just seems to be fully present and engaged.”
Carmelo Anthony didn’t have his usual high-scoring night. Coming off missing New York’s last game due to illness, he finished with only 12 points in 26 minutes of action. He shook the rust off early through a 1-of-5 first quarter, and he finished with 12 points in his 26 minutes of action. With the game in hand, he also didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Arron Afflalo was the fuel cell for the Knicks early. He went 3-of-4 for seven points and pulled down five rebounds in the first quarter to help push the team out to a 27-21 lead. Afflalo finished the night with 13 points and eight rebounds.
Melo heated up in the second, tallying a team-high eight points. Lance Thomas was strong off the bench as well. He had six of his 10 points in the second quarter. He added a pair of rebounds and a block in his 22 minutes of action. The New York defense forced six turnovers in the second frame to extend its lead to 54-39 going into the break.
Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant took their turns in the scoring carousel in the third quarter. Calderon hit once from beyond the car and had seven points. The veteran guard finished with 11 points, five assists and two boards. Grant chipped in five points and two dimes off the bench in the third. His final line read 12 points, two rebounds, two assists and a block.
New York held a commanding 81-58 lead after three quarters, which allowed Fish to grant some rest to Anthony, Afflalo and Robin Lopez. Kevin Seraphin and Derrick Williams helped to carry the Knicks out of The Garden with a win. Seraphin filled the stat sheet with eight points, six rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block. Williams put together a solid performance with eight points, a couple of boards and one dime in 19 minutes of play.
Being almost 20 games into the season and close to .500, D-Fish has a pretty good sample size of what this year’s Knicks bring to the table. He didn’t talk about expectations one way or another, but he did recognize that his squad is definitely moving in the right direction. He reiterated that they must maintain their desire and intensity if they want to be successful.
“I don’t really place limits or ceiling on any particular situation. I think there are games we could have won that we left on the table…so whether or not we’re okay with where we’re are, I mean sure,” Fisher said. “I think we’re taking steps in the right direction but we still have to be greedy and hungry and have a sense of urgency about what we’re doing so that every game, every quarter means something to us.”
Fisher and the Knicks continue their five-game home stand as they face the Brooklyn Nets tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden.
This is the first meeting between the in-state rivals this season and they will look to reverse last year’s script as the Knicks dropped all four of their meetings last year against the Nets.
Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. EST and the game will be aired on MSG.