On the surface, the Knicks' defeat at the hands of the Washington Wizards could simply look like more of the same of what the team has displayed all season long. A loss in the closing seconds to a superior squad equals the same result, despite a different coach in Kurt Rambis stepping up to the plate.
But digging deeper, subtle but positive changes could be found throughout the course of Tuesday's contest. Though New York fell behind early, perhaps a halftime chat from Rambis was enough to light the necessary spark. The Knicks came out of the locker room looking like a much different team. They played with energy on both ends of the floor, moved the ball better in the second half, and didn't get easily discouraged as a group. Despite trailing, they didn't just merely lay down and take the loss. The Knicks fought relatively hard for the final 24 minutes of the game.
Under Derek Fisher's tutelage, regardless of how a game started (whether they were up or down), his Knicks would constantly struggle late in games. Perhaps this was also due to a lack of guidance, but there was more likely a lack of belief that they could climb back and narrow a given deficit. One could tell that New York truly believed a victory was within grasp on Tuesday. That could have been because Rambis knows how to instill such perseverance and keep players focused. Still just a year and half removed from his playing career, maybe Fisher hadn't understood how to separate the two identities and motivate his team with a different prospective or view on certain situations.
As for the rotation, not too much was different. Jerian Grant remained seated in Rambis' first game. On the court, the team seemed to rely upon Langston Galloway more so down the stretch, and Kristaps Porzingis appeared to be featured a bit more offensively. Minutes were distributed in similar fashion, but the way players were utilized appeared to be different. Rambis also turned to Kevin Seraphin for fifteen quality minutes off the bench, over the likes of Kyle O'Quinn and Lou Amundson.
It'll be interesting to see which trends continue to stick moving forward, but for once, it was nice to see the Knicks finish a game a hell of a lot stronger than the way they started it. The team displayed some necessary fight and refreshing hunger. Now that he knows it's there, it's up to Rambis to channel such effort into a positive direction moving forward.