A sore Carmelo Anthony tied the game with 3.4 seconds left in regulation and Derek Fisher’s New York Knicks held on in double overtime to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers by a final score of 119-113.
New York led by 18 points in the third quarter, but Philadelphia was able to rally and make a game out of it down the stretch. D-Fish wasn’t happy that his squad squandered its lead, but he left proud that the Knicks refused to lose.
“I think in pro sports whenever you figure out a way to win, you obviously want to learn from everything that happened out there, but you can’t be upset about winning when you’re playing against the best playing in the world,” Derek said. “If your team figures out a way through fouls, injuries…whatever happens and you figure out a way to win, you take that but you still have to learn and try to get better.”
Melo fought through a poor-shooting game where he was still hobbled by an ankle injury suffered last week that kept him out of the last couple games. Despite the off-night form their superstar, Melo was still able to come through for his team when he was needed most.
Anthony managed to make the most important shot he took, only shooting 7-of-28 from the field on the night, when he drained a three-pointer over Nerlens Noel to send the game into overtime. Melo finished the game with 19 points, seven boards, seven rebounds and a steal in 49 minutes.
Even though Carmelo didn’t have his best night and was clearly not back at 100 percent yet, D-Fish still lauded his star for doing what he had to do in order to help the Knicks come away with the win.
“I thought early he was moving well but just the timing and rhythm of not playing a few games was a little bit off. Then as the game went on I thought some fatigue kind of set in and he just didn’t have his legs underneath him,” Fisher said. “I still thought he was aggressive. He got some guys involved early in the game…he did what he needed to do to help us win today although he wasn’t necessarily at 100 percent.”
After a back and forth first five minutes of overtime, the second overtime period was clinched after two baskets and a clutch blocked shot from Langston Galloway.
Aaron Afflalo led New York with 25 points to go along with seven rebounds and a steal in 45 minutes. Kristaps Porzingis suffered a foot injury in the win and was forced out of action, but he was still able to put up 16 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in 34 minutes. Fisher said after the game that Porzingis should be good to go for tomorrow’s game.
Robin Lopez and Jose Calderon also had solid nights for the starting unit. Lopez had a double-double with 16 points, ten boards and a couple blocks in 33 minutes, while Calderon finished with eight points, three rebounds and was second on the team with five assists in 35 minutes.
Thomas, who was huge for New York in overtime, led reserves with 12 points to go along with four rebounds, two assists and a block in 31 minutes of action. Galloway and Derrick Williams played well off the pine too, combining for 15 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Another big part of the Knicks victory was the success at the free-throw line. Fisher’s crew is leading the NBA by far, shooting at an 82 percent clip from the line. D-Fish explained how knowing he has guys who can go to the line and convert is a good feeling, and it has been emphasized in their game plan.
“That was a big part of the late game strategy in overtime and double overtime was trusting that all five guys out there are good free throw percentage shooters and you don’t have to worry about who catches the ball,” D-Fish said. “It helps…it really does make a difference in terms of winning or losing.”
Fisher and the Knicks (21-22) will square off against the Utah Jazz (18-23) at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. In the last meeting between the two teams early in December, the Jazz handled Fisher’s Knicks by a final score of 106-85.
Utah is in the midst of a rough patch, only winning one of its last three games. Most recently the Jazz fell to the Charlotte Hornets in overtime Monday night. The Knicks will look to avenge the loss earlier and this season and get the best of the Jazz this time on their home court.
The game is slated to tip off at 7:30 p.m. EST and will be aired on MSG.