In a hectic game down the stretch, Derek Fisher’s New York Knicks engaged in an overtime-thriller against the Oklahoma City Thunder at MSG.
Without the services of Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks fell short to the Thunder in overtime by a final score of 128-122, but Fisher’s group played a hard-fought game against one of the best teams in the NBA. D-Fish said that he was happy with his team’s tenacious effort despite not coming out on top.
“I thought our guys competed from start to finish. Wasn’t a perfect game but I thought the effort was perfect in terms of playing hard and competing every possession,” Fisher said. “We couldn’t get some timely stops there at the end of regulation and five more minutes against a good team like that, they eventually kind of wore us down a little bit.”
The Knicks were leading by 11 with 9:31 left in the fourth quarter but the Thunder weren’t going to go down without a fight. Kevin Durant was a force down the stretch as he helped get OKC back into the game. He tied the contest on three free throw attempts with 4:17 remaining and put the Thunder ahead with a driving dunk and a three-pointer late in regulation.
The thrilling back-and-forth continued from there. Langston Galloway tied the game with 1:50 left in the fourth on clutch three-point attempt and a brilliant driving layup by Kristaps Porzingis put Fish’s squad up two. Then after a swift Galloway steal, Derrick Williams finished on the other end with a thunderous dunk to give the Knicks a four point advantage with 52.9 to go in regulation.
However, OKC responded with two field goals of its own, a Serge Ibaka hook shot and a tough 13-footer from KD with 16.2 left in the final frame to force OT. Oklahoma City would go on to prevail behind its leader, Durant, who scored seven points in overtime and finished the contest with a season-high 44.
The Knicks were without Melo, sidelined with a sore knee, but D-Fish doesn’t think that has too much to do with his team not being able to close out games in this stretch without their superstar. He acknowledged not having him in the lineup impacts the team, but Fisher still thinks his group had enough to come out victorious last night.
“I think every team is impacted in some ways when certain guys are out of the lineup,” Fisher explained. “That being said, we obviously still had enough to win the game and we just didn’t.”
With Melo out, Lance Thomas was inserted into the starting lineup and he was up for the challenge. Thomas had missed the last three games with a knee injury, but he came back last night and led the Knicks in minutes played. He finished the game with 16 points to go along with four rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block in 41 minutes.
Porzingis and Aaron Afflalo both had solid nights, with KP scoring 15 points, five boards, two assists, a steal and two blocks in 31 minutes and Afflalo finishing with 17 points, 5 rebounds and a couple assists in 40 minutes. One of Porzingis’ blocks came on a highlight-reel block-and-catch on a Russel Westbrook drive to the basket.
The performance of the night for the Knicks came from the great play of the reserves, with Williams and Galloway leading the way. Williams finished the game with 19 points, which was good for second on the team, to go with a team-high 10 boards and four assists in 16 minutes. Galloway led the team in scoring with 21 and also came down with five rebounds, dished out five assists and recorded three steals in 33 minutes.
Fisher complimented Galloway on his impressive game and he also noted that with the younger guys on his roster, these types of games can serve as beneficial learning experiences that D-Fish hopes will help them in future closing-situations down the road.
“Langston was great. He competed extremely hard on both ends of the floor and in reality he’s a rookie in terms of experience,” Derek said. “We obviously would love to win these games but we have some young guys that we hope to be with us for a long time that are learning a lot about how to win and how to close.”
Fisher and his Knicks (22-25) will square off against another tough opponent in the Toronto Raptors (30-15). The Raptors have played great this season and are only two games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks got the best of the Raptors in a 111-109 victory on Nov. 10, but Toronto comes into the matchup on a nine-game winning streak and are playing the best basketball they have all season.
The game is slated to tipoff at 8 p.m. EST from the Air Canada Centre and will be nationally televised on TNT.