These are not last year’s Knicks. That much is clear. The results of games played in 2014-15 were usually not still up in the air headed into the fourth quarter, but this new team, comprised of mainly players put together by Phil Jackson over the last six months, is a competitive unit that manages to hang with their opponent, up to a certain point – that point is usually halfway through the final quarter.
Back on November 4 against the Cavs, the Knicks gave up a 15-point lead in Cleveland and on Friday, for the second straight game, the Knicks failed yet again to hold a fourth-quarter lead. Midweek in Charlotte, the team coughed up a ten point lead to the Hornets. After Friday night’s 90-84 loss, in which they led by five with less than five minutes left in the game, the team’s record is 4-6 (1-4 at The Garden).
This was the first time this season that the Knicks have held their opponent to 90 points or less, but they still came away empty-handed.
Head coach Derek Fisher took the blame post-game.
“I have to do a better job of putting guys in a better position to be successful out there,” the coach said. “It is my job to make the situation better from the bench.”
The Knicks are currently 22nd in the league in points per game (98.9), and in each of their past two losses they’ve scored just 26 points combined in the final quarter. Fisher admitted that some of the offensive woes stem from having so many new pieces trying to master the team’s offensive schemes, but added that sometimes the team relies on Carmelo Anthony (26 points, five rebounds and a team best four assists) to bail them out in the final period.
“Some of it is personnel,” said Fisher. “We have our young guys playing some important minutes. They are learning what it takes to play important games. I am trying to make sure guys are able to continue to execute, and do the things we need them to do.
“We have to trust our execution and continue to play as a team. We get into trouble when we try to manufacture offense as individuals rather than as a unit. Like I said, it is my job to make sure we continue to improve.”
Anthony didn’t allow his coach to shoulder all the blame for the loss, either. After he scored 14 in the first quarter, and had 22 by the break on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor, Anthony scored just four points in the second half on 1-of-9 shooting after being harrased defensively by LeBron James.
“We’re just not getting it done these past couple games,’’ said Anthony. “We’re just not getting it done. You can’t attribute it to anything else but not making it happen. They made adjustments. They jumped the pick-and-roll, they trapped, they denied. They made a proper adjustment in the second half.
“We’re going to be in a lot of close games,” Anthony continued. “It’s just a matter of us figuring it out.”
New York face the struggling New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
Feature image via: Howard Simmons