Trailing in the fourth quarter and facing their potential fifth straight loss, Derek Fisher’s New York Knicks made a decision.
That decision, the New York coach said, was to end the skid. The Knicks trailed by ten points at the end of the third quarter, but a rally sparked by the reserves erased the fourth quarter defect and helped propel New York to a 112-110 victory on the road.
“That’s a very difficult thing to do what the guys just did. To be down in the fourth quarter, third game in four night, things haven’t been going well, very easy to kind of pack up and say we’ll get them next time and fell sorry for yourself,” Derek said. “They decided they wanted to win the game and that’s what they went out there and did.”
This weekend’s game in Portland marked the return first return to Rip City for Robin Lopez and Aaron Afflalo since leaving the team in free agency last summer. Both starters had big nights in the Knicks winning effort. Lopez had 14 points and seven rebounds while Afflalo scored 15 points.
Carmelo led the way for the Knicks on offense, tying a season-high with 37 points to go along with six rebounds and a couple assists. The high-scoring night for Melo was accompanied by a great performance on the defensive end as he recorded two blocked shots and a steal. Fisher credited Melo with pacing the team and playing with the competitive drive that he wants to see out of his whole squad on a nightly basis.
“His overall activity level really led our group and that’s really what we’ve been talking to all our guys about that regardless of your statistics, every time people look at you play they should see that you want to win so bad that you’re flying around on both ends of the court,” Fisher said. “I thought his activity is really what help us together and also helped us get the separation at the end.”
Derrick Williams, Lance Thomas and Langston Galloway were instrumental in the 10-point rally and all three helped push the pace of the game late to favor the Knicks. Galloway finished the night with seven points, four rebounds and three assists in about 30 minutes of action, while Thomas and Williams combined for 23 points. Williams made 3-of-4 of his attempts from beyond the arc and Thomas also drained his only attempt.
Kyle O’Quinn also had a solid night off the pine with one of his best shooting efforts of the season. He shot 7-of-8 from the field and finished with 14 points and seven rebounds while also dishing out two assists and blocking a shot. Fisher was complimentary of the Knicks well-rounded effort on Saturday from both the starters and reserves.
“It’s great to see. It’s not the first time we’ve seen it but it definitely seems like it’s been a while that we’ve been able to have the combination of some guys in our starting group playing well and also some guys coming off the bench and being able to either sustain the energy or even pick it up,” D-Fish said. “The game could have gotten away from us but those guys showed a lot of mental toughness in the fourth quarter.”
The Knicks (11-14) will be back at Madison Square Garden to face the Minnesota Timberwolves (9-14) on Wednesday. The Wolves have been in a 1-6 December-slump after stringing together three straight wins in late November.
Minnesota is slated to play the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, so Wednesday’s contest against Fisher and Co. will be the second leg of a back-to-back for the Wolves.
The game is scheduled to tipoff at 7:30 p.m. EST from and will be aired on MSG.