The New York Knicks started the weekend off with a blowout win over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night, but with three games in a four-day stretch, Derek Fisher’s club didn’t have enough energy to get past the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.
The Knicks defeated the Nets by a final score of 108-91 in a contest they were in complete control of the whole night and put up a season-high 42 points in the first quarter. The following day New York couldn’t hang with the Bucks as they fell 106-91. Despite the loss, there are still positives to take away from the Knicks weekend split. After Friday’s win over the Nets, D-Fish praised his team’s ball movement and will to play as a collective unit on the floor.
“It’s hard to plan and envision 40 points in a quarter but I thought the guys were very intent on playing together and really sharing the basketball and sending the message that they’re capable of doing that,” D-Fish said. “It was really good to see from that perspective.”
BOUROUGH BATTLE BLOWOUT
Carmelo led the way on offense against the Nets, leading both teams with 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Melo also came down with seven rebounds, dished out two assists and recorded two steals in the Knicks victory. New York’s superstar was also feeling it from downtown, draining 5-of-8 of his three-point attempts.
The Knicks starting five all found a way to contribute in Friday’s game against the Nets. Jose Calderon was one of the best players on the court in Fisher’s opinion. The veteran guard finished the contest with a game-high 10 assists in in 28 minutes of action. Although the point guard wasn’t scoring, D-Fish still had high praise for Calderon due to the fact he was facilitating the game for his teammates.
“I remember at one point thinking during that game the Jose was probably was probably the best player on the floor tonight because he was okay with not having any points,” Fisher said. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we won the game in an easier fashion when you have a player only thinking about making his teammates better and the more guys we can have thinking that way the game can get easier for us.”
Breakout rookie Kristaps Porzingis put together another solid performance with a 19-point and 10-rebound effort in 26 minutes. There seems to be a buzz around Madison Square Garden whenever the rookie big-man touches the ball, but when asked whether or not Kristaps feeds off that energy, Fisher explained that everyone on court feeds off of the energy that the home crowd provides them with.
“I think all players feed off energy, sometimes good or bad, and here at home for us I do feel that guys feed off the energy that our fans provide us,” Fisher said. “In terms of the buzz this year, success always brings a little bit more of a spotlight…we have to embrace that as well.”
Aaron Afflalo did a great job offensively as well, scoring 18 points to go along with three boards and an assist. Robin Lopez was another member of the Knicks’ first unit to put forth a solid effort. He was a force on defense and led both teams with three blocked shots along with seven points, five rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes of action.
New York’s reserves saw some action later in the contest with the Knicks having the game in hand. Langston Galloway and Derrick Williams each finished the game with eight points. Galloway recorded five rebounds and two assists while also going 2-for-5 from long range. Lance Thomas also contributed with nine points off the pine to go along with a couple rebounds and a steal in 21 minutes.
The Knicks victorious effort in the Battle of the Boroughs was a good example of the collective effort Coach Fish has been looking for from his team.
“For sure, in terms of 20 games into our season, we’ve figured out a way to win ten games but they haven’t looked this way necessarily,” Fisher said. “That type of balance where you can have multiple guys have an opportunity to make the defense work, that makes the game easier for everybody including Melo. That’s what the goal should be, to be a team.”
On Saturday, the Knicks took the floor for the third time in four nights. Fisher wasn’t going to use any excuses, but it was obvious from watching his team that they just didn’t enough left in the tank to compete with the Bucks that night.
“They had more energy than us and brought that game to us really right from that start. We were fortunate to still be in the game at halftime and came out in the third quarter and just didn’t have the energy necessary to compete in this game,” D-Fish said.
The starting unit for the Knicks struggled tremendously in the first half, so Fisher turned to his second unit for a spark to lead things off in the third quarter. Derek liked what the reserves brought to the game in terms of brining the compete-level to the court that the starting five lacked, but already facing a 20-points deficit made the uphill battle too far of a climb.
“We were just trying to find some energy out there. Our guys in the first group got off to a really slow start there in the third quarter and just wanted to get some guys in there that could provide some energy…they did that but it’s hard to play from behind, on the road, down by 20,” Derek explained.
Thomas in particular had a solid night for Fisher coming off the bench. He finished the game with 17 points, which was good for second on the team behind Melo who scored 18. Keven Seraphin played well too when his number was called, finishing with a line of four points, four rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots in 23 minutes.
Porzingis and Afflalo had relatively quiet nights from the starting lineup. Kristaps scored 12 points to go along with seven boards and an assist in only 21 minutes of action. Afflalo put up 13 points and a couple rebounds in 32 minutes, a team-high workload. Caledon also contributed with four points, six rebounds and five assists in the losing effort.
Fisher and the Knicks (10-11) will look to get back on track Monday night when they face the Dallas Mavericks (12-9) at Madison Square Garden.
New York dropped both its matchups last season to the Mavs. Dallas is coming off a weekend split as well, featuring a 100-96 loss to the Houston Rockets, followed by a road victory over the Washington Wizards. That 116-104 win came Sunday night, putting Dallas on the second night of a back-to-back as it rolls into Madison Square Garden.
The game is slated to tip off at 7:30 p.m. EST and will be broadcasted on MSG.