After back-to-back overtime wins got Derek Fisher’s New York Knicks back to .500, the extra minutes started to take its toll this weekend.
New York dropped both of its games this weekend, losing on Friday at home to the Los Angeles Clippers by a final score of 116-88 and on Saturday on the road to the Charlotte Hornets, 97-84. Fisher’s group showed signs of fatigue in each of the contests and in Friday’s matchup against Los Angeles, the game got away from the Knicks quickly.
“The game got away from the start. We weren’t ready to play against this team tonight,” D-Fish said. “They were by far, in a way, a better team tonight for sure and pretty much proved that from start to finish.”
The Knicks cut the Clips lead to five points in the third quarter, but L.A. responded with a 16-3 run to put a damper on New York’s comeback hopes. Fisher said that a lot of the guys were anxious for this measuring stick game against a good team like the Clippers after a successful stretch, and that didn’t allow for them the relaxed style they needed to in order to win.
“Sometimes in games like this where we’ve taken a couple steps forward, guys are really looking forward to certain opportunities, certain moments and I thought we played with a little tension and stress from the start because we wanted it so bad,” Fisher said. “They are better prepared to play with that readiness than we were tonight.”
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks in scoring with 16 points in 32 minutes. He also chipped in with four boards, six assists, a steal and a block. In a night where Fisher’s starters struggled for the most part, Kristaps Porzingis was the only other member of the starting five to reach double-digits. Porzingis finished with 13 points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes.
D-Fish turned to the bench when the game started to get out of reach and a few players had solid games off the pine. Derrick Williams finished with nine points, seven rebounds and a steal in 29 minutes, and Langston Galloway added 10 points to go along with two rebounds and an assist in 24 minutes.
Jerian Grant led reserves in scoring with 13 points and also led the team in assists with eight in 24 minutes on the floor. Kevin Seraphin saw the court for 13 minutes and knocked down three of his seven field goal attempts to finish with six points, three rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot.
On Saturday against the Hornets, Melo left the game with a sore knee and Fisher’s crew continued to look out of sync and drained. On the bright side, the reserves did play well in the fourth quarter and D-Fish lauded the groups fight to try and make a game out of it.
“We looked just completely worn down and worn out and could not continue to bring enough energy to the game to have a chance,” Fisher said. “So we just got some guys out there in the fourth quarter just to try and play hard and not really worry about the score. They kind of fought their way back in.”
Part of that group Fisher talked about in the fourth was Sasha Vujacic and Williams. D-Will finished the game with a double-double and a team-high 19 points to go along with 14 rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes. Vujacic scored eight points, came down with four boards and recorded a steal in 12 minutes of action.
“They just tried to continue to try and play the game the right way – be professional out there and keep competing offensively and defensively and really try and simplify the game,” Fisher said. “Guys just kept playing. Not that we were going to necessarily come back and win the game, it was good to see though, guys kept playing the right way.”
Melo was on the floor for about 29 minutes before leaving the game with a knee injury. He scored nine points, six rebounds and a couple assists before exiting the contest. Porzingis led the starters with 13 points to go along with four rebounds and a game-high three blocks in 29 minutes.
Robin Lopez and Aaron Afflalo combined for 20 points, 12 boards and three blocks in the contest while Jose Calderon added six points, four rebounds and seven assists in 31 minutes for the starting unit.
Fisher’s Knicks (22-24) will take on his former squad, the Oklahoma City Thunder (33-13), at home on Tuesday. New York took down the current No. 3 seed in the Western Conference on Nov. 20 in an impressive 93-90 victory, which it’ll look to replicate.
The win at Chesapeake energy Arena for Fisher’s Knicks is only one of five losses the Thunder have surrendered at home this season. OKC has been hot of late, but its seven-game winning streak came to an end last night at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets in a 116-106 loss.
The game will tipoff at 7:30 p.m. EST and will be aired on MSG. You can also catch the action on NBATV.