Derek Fisher received another well-rounded effort from his team on Wednesday night as the New York Knicks handled the Minnesota Timberwolves at MSG.
The 107-102 win for D-Fish and Co. marked the second victory in a row for the Knicks, who built on a Dec. 13 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. Fisher’s message to the team is being heard loud and clear, and the effort from the Knicks last night is the style of basketball he hopes to see more of as the season progresses.
New York finished the game with 28 total assists and D-Fish’s emphasis on the importance of sharing ball and getting everybody on the court involved had a positive effect on last night’s big win.
“If we continue to share the basketball we should be one of the higher percentage teams in the league in terms of assists to field goals made because we really try to get our penetration off the pass a lot more than the dribble than other teams,” Fisher explained. “So we should always see these numbers…the ball should be moving and everyone should have an opportunity to make a play.”
Carmelo Anthony had a monster game and was only an assist away from a triple-double. He racked up 20 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists in 35 minutes of action. Building off what he said about the importance of ball movement and sharing the basketball, Fisher explained that when the best players on the team like Melo are playing with that mindset, it really helps the rest of the unit.
“When you’re trying to grow as much as we are and develop as much as we are as a team and an organization you need to get examples of what that will look like,” D-Fish said. “When your best players are rebounding and sharing the ball and playing defense and doing all the little things that help teams win, it’s much easier to have the rest of the group fall in line…[Melo’s] mindset tonight just really set the tone for our group.”
Another one of the Knicks best players on the court last night was Arron Afflalo. He led all scorers with 29 points to go along with three rebounds and an assist in 34 minutes. Afflalo shot 9-of-14 from the field and was a catalyst for New York’s offense all night. The talented shooting guard also had a solid night from long range, hitting 3-of-5 of his attempts from beyond the arc.
Kristaps Porzingis didn’t have his best night shooting, finishing with 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting, but he made up for it in a big way on the defense end of the court. The rookie recorded seven blocked shots on the night while no player on either team recoded more than one. He also added six rebounds and three assists for the Knicks in his first matchup against Carl Anthony-Towns, the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Fisher has stressed that individual stat lines don’t really matter as long as the Knicks find a way to win and tonight was no different when it came to Kristaps’ performance on offense.
“For Kris to block seven shots, he took away seven opportunities for the other team to score. That’s more important than him making one more basket,” Fisher said. “Our guys are continuing to embrace the fact that your stat line won’t make the difference every night.”
Fisher’s reserves put together solid performances with Langston Galloway and Lance Thomas both finishing the game in double-digits. Galloway put up 12 points, three boards and six assists in 32 minutes, while Thomas scored 14 points and came down with seven boards in 22 minutes.
After the game D-Fish credited Thomas for showing tremendous improvement this year. The fourth-year forward out of Duke returned to the Knicks this summer and put in a ton of work to try and improve his game. So far the results are obvious for Lance, who he has been one of Fisher’s most consistent players off the bench all season.
“The commitment [Thomas put in this summer] that you give to yourself and your game and to making the team better by coming back a better player, that’s what being in this league is all about,” Fisher said. “I think Lance took that process seriously. He made some significant improvements over the summer and it’s paying off for him in the game.”
Fisher and the Knicks (12-14) will take on the Philadelphia 76ers (1-26) tomorrow night. In the last meeting between the two teams earlier in the month New York defeated the lowly Sixers by 12 points at home. On Friday they will look to repeat the same success on the road against a Philly squad that is in the midst of an eight-game skid.
On Saturday New York will be back at home to play the Chicago Bulls (15-8) who are currently second in the Eastern Conference and only a game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the top overall spot. The Bulls have won their last four games and are slated to play the Detroit Pistons tomorrow, so they too will be on the second-leg of a back-to-back for Saturday’s game against Fisher’s group.
Friday’s game against Philly will tipoff at 7 p.m. EST and Saturday’s contest against Chicago will start at 7:30 p.m. EST. Both games will be aired on MSG.