The New York Knicks renaissance continues.
Since being outscored 31-8 in the fourth quarter of a loss to the Chicago Bulls, Derek Fisher’s New York Knicks have won three straight. Wednesday night, they hit the road and topped the Miami Heat, 98-90.
“Players are smarter than we give them a lot of credit for at times. They’re more prideful and take this job more seriously than people think,” Fisher said. “I just thought after the Chicago game, not necessarily what I said but how they felt about it themselves, was a real turning point. I think they are starting to feel like we can be at least as good as anyone when we bring the right effort, the right mindset and it’s been indicative the last few nights.”
Miami has been great at coming back in games they’ve trailed in, but the Knicks weren’t going to let that happen. After leading by only a point after the first quarter, New York didn’t allow Miami to make any runs to get back into the contest. They led by seven at the half and by as many as 13 in the third en route to an eight-point victory.
Robin Lopez was a big part of the winning effort as he contributed with a season-high 19 points and four rebounds on 9-of-12 shooting in 35 minutes. Lopez was dominant in the paint offensively and also did his part protecting the rim with two blocked shots. In recent games Lopez has been getting more minutes and Fisher likes what he is seeing from his center.
“I think as he’s physically gotten stronger and better conditioned as the season’s gone on, he’s going out and he’s performing well. We works hard at it every day. I think he’s continuing his awareness in terms of where the opportunities are offensively. He’s continuing to go up and take advantage of what’s there,” D-Fish explained. “His teammates are trusting him and he’s completing the plays.”
After struggling in the two previous matchups against the Heat, Carmelo Anthony figured it out. Like Lopez, Melo also had an extremely productive night, shooting 9-of-12 from the field and scoring a team-high 25 points in 37 minutes. Carmelo also came down with five rebounds, dished out four assists and recorded a couple steals as he continued his well-rounded play.
D-Fish reiterated how good Melo has been in terms of getting all his teammates involved and also lauded the impressive level of patience displayed from the Knicks superstar.
“I just thought he was patient and I think that’s something he’s worked really hard to develop as the season’s gone on – how to give his teammates room to operate and be able to help him impact the game,” Derek said. “But then also be himself and trust that he can go score against anybody…I just thought his patience was really good, his poise, his decision making and I think he can be efficient that way when he plays a relaxed, calm, confident game and that’s the way he played tonight.”
Kristaps Porzingis enjoyed a solid performance as well for New York’s starting unit with a 12-point and four-rebound effort in 31 minutes of action. He played well defensively too, trying Lopez for the team lead with two blocked shots. Jose Calderon added to the Knicks impressive efficiency against the elite defense of the Heat, shooting 4-of-5 and finishing the game with nine points, five boards and two assists in 35 minutes.
The bench was relatively quiet for the Knicks, but the trend of Derrick Williams filling the role as the spark plug continued. Williams led reserves again with 13 points to go along with a game-high eight defensive rebounds in only 18 minutes on the floor. Fisher said that after adjusting to his new role, Williams is starting to look more comfortable as he starts to become a strong asset to New York’s success.
“I think he’s now kind of made the adjustment. I think he feels comfortable that he’s going to get a certain amount of minutes and go make the most of them, don’t overthink it,” Derek said. “I think he’s been aggressive and he’s playing the whole game and that’s what we’ve talked about. He’s doing it and I think his teammates appreciate the fact that he’s doing it in the role that he is.”
Fisher and the Knicks (18-19) will wrap up their three-game road trip when they square off against the San Antonio Spurs (31-6) on Friday night. The Spurs have the second best record in all the NBA, and this weekend’s contest will require New York to play its best if it wants to extend its win streak to four.
A winner of its last six games, San Antonio comes into Friday’s meeting on an 11-1 run since mid-December.
The game will tipoff at tomorrow from the AT&T Center at 8:30 p.m. EST and will be broadcasted on MSG.