The New York Knicks trailed by eight points heading into the fourth quarter Wednesday night, but Derek Fisher’s squad rallied to tie it, then knocked off the Utah Jazz in overtime.
New York defeated the Utah by a final score of 118-111 to secure their second consecutive overtime victory. Despite the up and downs in the game, D-Fish left the contest pleased with how his team found a way to pull out the win after falling to the Jazz earlier this season in Utah.
“I thought our guys, kind of regardless what happened to us, good or bad, foul situations…just kind of kept playing and finding ways to make the necessary plays to win,” Fisher said.
The Knicks were behind for a large chunk of the contest, trailing by as many as 12 points in the third quarter before kicking it into gear. After a frantic final minute of regulation, a pair of Kristaps Porzingis free throws had the Knicks up three with nine seconds to go. But on Utah’s last possession, Porzingis committed a foul on Gordon Hayward’s three-point attempt with 2.4 seconds remaining, and the sharp-shooting Hayward knocked down all three of his attempts to send the game into overtime.
The Knicks kept the Jazz at arm’s length for much of overtime, pulling out to a seven-point lead behind a terrific three-point play from Derrick Williams. A Trey Lyles three-pointer cut that down to four on the next possession, but that’s as close as the Jazz came. Carmelo Anthony, Williams and Langston Galloway combined to go 5-of-6 from the free throw line to close it out.
A big part of the victory was a well-rounded effort from Anthony, who finished the contest with a game-high 30 points to go along with a team-high nine assists and seven rebounds in 42 minutes. Leading the team in both points and assists speaks to the high level of play Melo has been displaying of late, particularly when it comes to getting everyone on the floor involved.
After the game, Coach Fisher lauded his superstar’s ability to be a facilitator and explained what it means for his team when Melo plays a complete game as he did on Wednesday.
“It was huge. He has that ability. Like we talked about before the game, all the facets of the game he’s capable of being really, really good at…scoring, rebounding and sharing the ball” D-Fish said. “He showed a level of trust in his teammates that is required for us to be successful and the more his teammates can trust themselves to step into those moments…that builds a trust as a unit that we’re going to need down the stretch.”
Another big performance came from Robin Lopez, who shot 11-for-14 from the floor and also came down with 12 boards, which was a game-high. Lopez continued having his way in the paint, chipping in on the defensive end with three blocked shots in 40 minutes of action. D-Fish said that his big man’s heightened-level of play has been a key to New York’s recent improvement.
“Robin was outstanding. His presence on the floor as the season has gone on has really been instrumental to our ability to get a little bit better over the last month or so,” Derek explained. “Hopefully we can keep this up and help keep him healthy as well.”
Coach Fisher was also happy to note that Porzingis looked solid after sustaining a foot injury in the Knicks double overtime win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday afternoon. The rookie finished the game with 16 points, five boards, two assists and was tied for the team lead in blocks with three in 29 minutes. Arron Afflalo had a strong game as well in the winning-effort with 14 points, including a tremendously clutch triple in overtime, and a couple assists in 43 minutes.
Led by the play of Williams, the New York reserves also played a large role in contest, on a night where they were without reserve big man Lance Thomas. Williams led scorers off the bench with 18 points and six rebounds in 29 minutes. Langston Galloway also saw some increased action off the shorthanded bench, finishing with nine points, two rebounds, three assists and a steal in 31 minutes.
Coach Fisher and the Knicks (22-22) continue their homestand Friday night when they welcome the Los Angeles Clippers (27-24) to Madison Square Garden for a cross-coast affair.
The Clippers are in the midst of a red-hot stretch having won 11 of their last 12 games. Los Angeles now sits with the fourth-best record in a tough Western Conference. However, the Clips did see a ten-game winning streak came to an end last weekend when they fell to the Sacramento Kings, but they were able to get back on track with a 140-132 overtime win over the Houston Rockets on Monday. LA plays in Cleveland on Thursday night, so Friday’s game will be the tail-end of a back-to-back for the veteran Clippers, while the Knicks will have the benefit of an off day Thursday to come into the game energized.
Tipoff from Madison Square Garden is slated for 7:30 p.m. EST and the game will be aired on MSG.