After going through a tough stretch of games, Derek Fisher’s New York Knicks have turned a corner.
The Knicks are on a four-game winning streak after defeating the Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago Bulls over the weekend. Fisher and Co. handled the Sixers 107-97 on Friday and on the following night they took care of business against the Bulls in a 107-91 victory.
D-Fish is starting to see more consistent play over this impressive stretch for the Knicks and he is also starting to notice that his group is becoming more of a team.
“[They’re] becoming a team. Realizing that the answers actually lie inside of the locker room and not anywhere else that they really are capable of doing more things and better things,” Fisher said. “The credit goes to them turning around a situation that was difficult for the guys. We had lost four games in a row and they deserve a lot of credit for staying together and still trusting their work.”
KNICKS FLY PAST PHILLY
On Friday night against the Sixers, Fisher’s crew got off to a slow start and had trouble adjusting to the energy Philly brought on its home floor. However, the Knicks quickly awoke and overcame its early four-point deficit, and from there, they maintained control for the majority of the game.
“We were a little slow to start but as the game went on I thought we got accustomed to the intensity that Philadelphia plays with,” Fisher said. “[Philadelphia] plays hard every night and I thought it took us a few minutes to get a feel for how to play against this team.”
Thanks to a great offensive display from Arron Afflalo, the Knicks were able to match the pace of the Sixers and get back on track. Afflalo was the game’s leading scorer with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting. He also added seven rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block in 26 minutes of action. Fisher is happy with the fact the Arron is healthy and playing so well on both ends of the court.
“He’s looking more comfortable and health has a lot to do with that I think. As he physically continues to improve and feel confident in his legs and is his body, I think he can continue to play well,” Derek said. “The great thing for Arron and the opportunity he’ll have is, as the season goes on and he’s not shooting the ball as well as he is, I think he’s still valuable enough to us that he can impact the game on the defensive end.”
Carmelo Antony had a solid night as well in limited minutes with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists. Kristaps Porzingis had a relatively quiet night, scoring only eight points, but he was the Knicks leading shot blocker with three in the contest.
After falling in a hole early, the Knicks dug their way out and led by seven after one quarter. That lead inflated to 21 by halftime. It stayed there going into the fourth quarter, but the reserves pushed it to 30 early in the fourth quarter.
The Knicks received contributions from many players off the bench on Friday as the starters were rested later in the game. Lance Thomas and Kyle O’Quinn combined for 22 points off the bench and made 7-of-11 of their field goal attempts. Thomas came down with three boards and added and assist while O’Quinn racked up seven rebounds and dished out three assists.
Another source of offense off the pine was Derrick Williams. Williams finished the game as the Knicks second-highest scorer with 17 points in 22 minutes. After the game D-Fish lauded the play from all the players who came off the bench and helped seal with win for New York.
“Our guys came off the bench and gave us some good energy. Derrick Williams was good, Jerian Grant was good, Galloway was good, Kyle O’Quinn was good and that really helped us tonight,” D-Fish said.
OUTRUNNING THE BULLS
On Saturday Fisher and the Knicks had the luxury of playing a tired Bulls squad. The night prior, Chicago fell in a four-overtime marathon to the Detroit Pistons.
The Bulls came out firing early against the Knicks, and Fish’s crew was caught off guard as they fell behind by 10 points early in the first. But after Coach Fisher implored his squad to “wake up,” the game shifted in New York’s favor.
Fisher credited the first quarter turn around to Carmelo and his activity level both offensively and defensively. Melo led both teams in scoring with 27 points to go along with seven rebounds and three assists in 35 minutes.
“After a slow start I think there was just an energy level and an activity level from Melo was really high and I looked up at one point and I didn’t even realize he had 17 or 18 points because he was just playing a good basketball game,” Fisher said. “It was great to see how active he was on both ends of the floor.”
Afflalo continued his terrific play of late with a line of 18 points, four rebounds and three assists while shooting 8-of-14 from the field. Porzingis was the only other N.Y. starter to reach double-digits as he finished with 10 points, seven boards and three assists in 29 minutes.
After the Knicks fell behind early in the game, Fisher turned to O’Quinn and Thomas for a spark. Thomas scored 13 points while O’Quinn was the team’s leading rebounder with ten. The depth of the Knicks has been an asset for Fisher especially when guys like Kyle and Lance can be relayed on provide some energy.
“We believe we have 13 or 14 guys that can help us do some things and I thought Kyle and Lance helped get us going there in the first quarter,” D-Fish explained.
After opening the gam in a 12-2 rut, New York did indeed wake up thanks to a team effort. The Knicks held a seven-point lead after 12 minutes thanks to three-pointers by Thomas and Melo in the waning minutes of the period. That lead swelled to 15 in the second quarter, 17 in the third and to 22 by game’s end.
New York is now at the .500 mark again 28 games into the season. Even though the goal in Fisher’s opinion is not to be an average team, he still thinks the guys have to appreciate the progress they are making.
“Our goal is not to be .500 so we’re not going to have any parties tonight, but at the same time I do think you have to celebrate the small successes,” Fisher said. “You do have to appreciate the progress that you do make even when you’re not exactly where you want to be.”
Fisher and the Knicks (14-14) will face the Orlando Magic (15-12) Monday night at MSG. Last month the Knicks fell to the Magic 100-91 on the road.
Orlando had won three in a row before losing to the Atlanta Hawks Sunday night 103-100. The Magic will be on the second leg of a back-to-back tonight, so the Knicks will look to come out of the gate strong and establish the tempo early.
The game is slated to tipoff at 7:30 p.m. EST and will be aired on MSG.