Derek Fisher has toyed with the Knicks’ lineups all season; he’s used 24 different variations of his starting five, including four different players starting at point guard. But, for all the Knicks scouting on players, their best point guard appears to have come from the D-League.
Langston Galloway, working on his second straight 10-day contract, started his first game for the Knicks, sparking the team to their first home win since Nov. 22. The Knicks defeated New Orleans, 99-92, and ended a 16-game losing streak. Fisher said he inserted Galloway into the starting lineup to “give us some athleticism, some toughness and some grit.”
That’s exactly what the former D-Leaguer has provided since getting the call-up from Westchester on Jan. 7. In his NBA debut, he posted 7 points, three assists and 2 rebounds, one night later playing at the Garden for the first time, he notched 19 points. On Monday, Galloway finished with a career-high 21 points (8-of-14 from the field), 5 rebounds and 3 assists. In five games with New York he’s averaging 12 points (42%), 3 assists and 2.6 rebounds.
“I’m not surprised,” said Fisher, who played 18 seasons in the NBA as a point guard. ”He is not afraid of the moment. That is what is special of a young player who is fighting in this league. You have to not be afraid to go get it and that is what he did tonight.”
The MSG faithful are also appreciative of Galloway’s aggressiveness in attacking the rim – his put-back dunk in the final term put the Knicks up 91-83, and made the Garden crowd erupt with 5:41 to play.
“I just had a chance to fly down the baseline and just jumped up there to see what would happen, and it happened to come off again and I happened to get another tip-dunk,” said Galloway.
There hasn’t been much to smile about at 33rd and 7th Ave this season, but Galloway, who went undrafted in 2014 and eventually emerged on the Knicks’ D-League affiliate in Westchester, could prove to be one of the redeeming stories of an otherwise lost season.
The Knicks’ roster may be in flux from now until the summer – every player but Carmelo Anthony is on the trading block – but Galloway’s play will force management to take a long hard look at whether he may be their point guard moving forward. Galloway, for his part, is too focused on the present to look that far ahead.
“I just take it moment-by-moment, game-by-game,” he said. “[I] just go out there and have fun and enjoy the moment and just keep working hard when I’m in practice.”
Galloway stamped himself early in the game against the Pelicans, hitting five of his first seven shots and leading the Knicks in scoring with 13 points at halftime. His play didn’t go unnoticed by team leader Anthony.
“He’s just playing ball,” said Anthony. “He’s playing with a confidence – he’s been playing like that when he was down in the D-League, and he’s carrying it over to us now. His confidence is growing daily and I just try let him know that, come play play ball, have fun with this. Don’t think about the game too much and just play basketball.”
Galloway has proved he isn’t scared of the big stage since entering the league – a determination borne of the need to prove he belongs on the big stage.
“It’s great. I love to see that; a young player work hard and it just shows on the basketball court,” affirmed Amar’e Stoudemire. “He plays really hard. He plays team basketball, so to see that is very intriguing.”