The four-game win streak came to an end Monday night for Derek Fisher’s New York Knicks.
New York fell to the Orlando Magic 107-99 in contest they couldn’t find a lead in all night. After the loss D-Fish explained what went awry.
“We played against a good team. We definitely started out slow and we had to play uphill the whole night. Every time we kind of got there to the edge they’d make a tough shot or we’d turn it over or we wouldn’t come up with a loose ball and they capitalized on it,” Fisher said. “It’s tough to play that way when you’re relying on every bounce to go your way playing from behind all night.”
Another culprit to the Knicks struggles was that the Magic scored 52 points in the paint. According to Derek, a lot of that had to do with how much they were turning the ball over. New York coughed it up seven times in the first period, leading to 11 points for Orlando. The Magic also shot 56.5 percent from the field and totaled 18 points in the paint to take a 29-21 lead after 12 minutes.
“We had 15 turnovers that led to 25 total points…that meant that on those turnovers you maybe had bad floor balance or bad or bad spacing so we weren’t even able to get back and defend after turning the basketball over,” Fisher said, “Half of their points were in the paint basically and that’s not a good recipe for success.”
Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points on the night while coming down with four rebounds and dishing out six assists in 40 minutes of action. He had eight points in the second quarter, as the Knicks settled in and cut the deficit to six, 52-46, after registering zero turnovers in the period.
Then in the third quarter, Lance Thomas made some major noise off the bench. He went 5-for-5 out of halftime for 12 points. He was New York’s leading scorer on the night with 24 points to go along with two boards and two assists in just 27 minutes. Fisher liked what he saw out of the Duke product who is in his first full season with the Knicks.
“His confidence is there because he’s put the work in. That’s the only way you can play with confidence is to know you’ve put the time in and you’ve invested the effort it takes to improve and I think that’s a big factor on why he’s playing so well for us,” Derek said.
New York had the lead down to five going into the final period, which was a shootout from both sides. Orlando shot 57.9 percent, and New York hit 55.6 percent of its shots behind another 10 points from Thomas.
The Knicks had the lead down to one point three times in the quarter, but they just couldn’t close it out. After a Thomas layup made it 93-92 in favor of Orlando with 3:24 to go, the Magic went on an 11-2 run to push the lead back to 10 with just 1:07 remaining. New York couldn’t recover from that run.
Of the other Knicks starters, Robin Lopez had a solid game as well. He scored 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting and also recorded eight rebounds, a couple assists and two shot blocks in 34 minutes.
Kristaps Porzingis finished the night with nine points and eight rebounds in 25 minutes on the court while also having a nice game defensively, leading both teams with four blocked shots. Aaron Afflalo and Jose Calderon struggled offensively as both combined for only eight points and five assists.
Besides Thomas, the bench was relatively quiet. Jerian Grant and Derrick Williams saw limited action, although Grant was utilized down the stretch due to the mismatch when Elfrid Payton left the game for the Magic with an injury. Grant finished the game with six points, two rebounds and an assist in 14 minutes and Williams had a line of five points, two boards and two assists in 10 minutes.
D-Fish and the Knicks have a tough stretch of games ahead of them with the next three contests coming against some of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. New York will be playing the Cleveland Cavaliers (18-7) tomorrow and the Atlanta Hawks (18-12) and Boston Celtics (15-13) over the weekend.
Even though the next few games over the holidays will be against quality opponents on the road, Fisher doesn’t want to over analyze these games more than any of the other games on the schedule.
“Every game is important for us. I don’t know if we over analyze these three games any more than what we’ve been doing the games that show up on our schedule,” D-Fish said.
Tomorrow’s game against the Cavs will tipoff at Quicken Loans Arena at 7 p.m. EST. Saturday’s against the Hawks will begin at 7:30 p.m. EST and Sundays contest against the Celtics will start at 7 p.m. EST. All three games will be aired on MSG but you can also catch Sunday’s game against Boston on NBATV.