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Knicks vs. Heat Observations
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (right) is pressured by Miami Heat forward Luol Deng (left) and Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh (center) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 95-78. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

The Knicks got a little bit of a HEAT check (pun intended) while attempting to extend their four-game winning streak in Miami on Monday. Though New York secured somewhat of an early lead, it didn't last long. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and co. came roaring and never looked back after beginning to apply some strong defensive pressure en route to an impressive romp. 

Miami amassed a lead that was over 20 points and went on a 32-6 run midway through the first half. The Knicks never really found consistency with a decent rhythm, thus resulting in a 95-78 loss. Games are often contests of runs and back and forth action, but the Knicks never really proved to have such a fight inside them on this night.

The opponent put together a balanced effort on offense with five players scoring in double-figures. The game was, however, largely in part won on the defensive end, due to Hassan Whiteside's five blocks and a game-high plus/minus of +28 for defensive-minded rookie Justise Winslow. This was enough to sink the Knicks. Here's a look at some other observations from the game.

  • The Heat didn't force the Knicks to change their overall game strategy much, at least on the offensive end. New York had the right idea and players were moving well without the ball in an attempt to create spacing, but the execution wasn't there. The Knicks got the shots they wanted, but the defensive pressure applied by Miami was undoubtedly enough to pester them into not being able to convert.
  • As a result of such pressure, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Arron Afflalo collectively shot 38 percent from the field.
  • Porzingis struggled from the field early on, starting off 3-of-10 shooting. But this actually wasn't the rookie's worst offensive outing to date, despite the romping his team suffered. The big man took time to make adjustments and react a bit more to what the defense was giving him. He hit a couple of daggers from long range in transition and was still undeterred from attacking the basket. He converted on 4 of his final 8 shots.
  • A large part of this loss can be attributed to the Knicks' bench not only being ineffective, but blatantly non-existent from start to finish. Coach Derek Fisher sporadically pulled guys in and out in hopes of finding sort of rhythm, but he didn't have much luck. Lou Amundson boasted a team-high +6 in 10 minutes, however, proving to be energetic during the team's final attempt at a comeback midway through the second half.
  • The Heat have had to retool a bit following the departure of LeBron James last year. But after narrowly missing the playoffs last season, they look to have righted the ship in a promising direction again. They've gotten a nice injection of youth from talented players like Whiteside, Winslow, and Tyler Johnson. 
Tags: Aaron Afflalo , Carmelo Anthony , Kristaps Porzingis , Keith Schlosser
Wade, Bosh score 16 each, Heat roll past Knicks 95-78
Nov 23, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Gerald Green (14) drives to the basket as New York Knicks forward Kyle O'Quinn (9) defends the play during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

MIAMI (AP) -- Tyler Johnson rose to try a dunk, and at the last moment someone impeded his path just enough to force a miss.

The culprit was Dwyane Wade, who unintentionally got in his teammate's way. Then again, the way the Miami Heat have been playing defense at home, maybe it was just habit.

Miami forced New York into missing 15 out of 16 shots in one first-half stretch, going on a 36-8 run for its best spurt of the season and eventually topping the Knicks 95-78 on Monday night. Wade and Chris Bosh each scored 16 for the Heat, who snapped New York's four-game winning streak and held the Knicks to a season low in points.

It was 52-30 at halftime, and numbers like that have become a trend at Heat games. New York was the eighth NBA team so far this season to score no more than 30 points in a half - and three of those instances have come by teams visiting Miami.

The Knicks hadn't even trailed by double figures in any of their last eight games. Miami led at one point by 26, simultaneously its biggest advantage and the Knicks' biggest deficit so far this season.

Goran Dragic had 13 points and nine assists for the Heat. Johnson scored 12, and Hassan Whiteside had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points for New York, which has lost 13 of its last 16 games in Miami. Rookie Kristaps Porzingis missed 11 of 18 shots, but still had 20 points and 14 rebounds.

New York led 13-6 early, and briefly. Miami's big run made it 42-21, and New York never got closer than 12 again. Anthony missed a 3-pointer that would have gotten the Knicks within nine early in the fourth, but it bounced off the rim and Miami put the game away with seven unanswered points that quickly got the lead back to 19.


Knicks: New York's previous season low was 87 points. ... Porzingis opened the scoring with a 3-pointer, and has now taken the first shot for the Knicks - all jumpers - in five of their last seven games. ... New York was bidding for its longest winning streak since an eight-game run from March 5-21, 2013. ... The Knicks went 424 minutes, 7 seconds without facing a 10-point deficit until Miami got there early in the second quarter.

Heat: Miami finished 6-1 on its seven-game homestand. ... Amare Stoudemire was inactive because of an illness, meaning he missed a chance to face his former team. Stoudemire played for the Knicks from the start of 2010-11 season until this past February, last playing against them on March 26, 2010. ... Justise Winslow wished the crowd a Happy Thanksgiving in a brief pregame address. "We appreciate all your love and support," he said.


It's a safe guess that Knicks-Heat was a big draw in Slovenia on Monday night. The game featured three Slovenian players - Dragic and Beno Udrih for the Heat, and Sasha Vujacic for the Knicks.


Whiteside blocked five shots, giving him 63 through 13 games. The previous Heat record for blocks at this point of the season belonged to Alonzo Mourning, who had 50 to open the 1998-99 season.

But Whiteside's biggest contribution might have come from the foul line. A 51 percent career shooter from the line coming into the night and someone who banked one in earlier Monday, Whiteside went 4 for 4 down the stretch when the Knicks went to the intentional-hacking tactic.


Knicks: Visit Orlando on Wednesday.

Heat: Visit Detroit on Wednesday.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Kristaps Porzingis
Stoudemire: Knicks didn't take advantage of him and Melo
Nov 19, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat forward Amar'e Stoudemire (5) enters the game during the first half against the Sacramento Kings at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

Former Knick Amar'e Stoudemire said the Knicks coaching staff didn't take advantage when he and Carmelo Anthony were teammates in New York, he told reporters before Monday's Knicks-Heat game (Nov. 23).

"At times we could've taken advantage of our opportunity a lot more,'' said Stoudemire, who played with the Knicks from 2010 to 2015 before negotiating a buyout in February and signing with the Mavericks. "It wasn't up to Melo and I. It was up to the coaching staff to figure that part out. We could never get the right system to figure that part out.''

The Knicks signed Stoudemire to a max contract in the summer of 2010 and he averaged 17.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game in five seasons in New York, however he missed 110 games as a Knick.

"I don't think that pick-and-roll offense between Melo and I was ever taken advantage of, which we could have," Stoudemire said. "The way he shoots the ball, handles the ball from the outside and the way I attack the rim, it could've been a pretty good combination. I don't think the coaching staff at the time really bought into that.''

New York never advanced past the second round of the playoffs in Stoudemire's tenure, and the Knicks lost 32 of their first 37 games last season before Phil Jackson shook up their roster.

"We had great talent," Stoudemire said. "We had players who were athletic, physical, defensive-minded, offensive-minded. A well-rounded team that year. But it took more time than I was willing to accept to buy into the system."

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Stoudemire alluded to his impatience with the system. It not only takes time to understand and buy in, but also to find a respective rhythm.

Time wasn't exactly something that was on his side, whether he liked it or not. Following an awing first season with the Knicks, Stoudemire's own career prime seemed to fade away as New York became Anthony's team. He had difficulty staying healthy and remaining on the court, which certainly played into things.

It'd be one thing to suggest the Knicks mismanaged Stoudemire if he were at full health. But he was unable to play in back to back games as his Knicks tenure came to a close. It's naive to think a team should have two separate game plans on a nightly basis, and risk throwing the team's everyday players off. It was up to Stoudemire to acclimate himself and fit in as seamlessly as he could when healthy. That didn't happen as one may have hoped.

It's a shame to see Stoudemire back-tracking now and placing blame on the coaching staff for his own ineffectiveness. Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game.

He previously handled himself so well and went about trying to make it work in New York rather professionally. The various staffs that coached Stoudemire and Co. did many things incorrectly; handling him was not one of them.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Keith Schlosser , Matthew Eisenberg
Tonight's Game: New York Knicks at Miami Heat
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) talks with Miami Heat center Chris Bosh (1) at American Airlines Arena. (Steve Mitchell)

The Knicks are in Miami on Monday to take on the Heat at 7:30 p.m.

According to STATS...

  • The Heat outscored the Knicks by an average margin of 102-87 while sweeping all three games in last year's season series. Miami has now won its last six games versus New York, one shy of the Heat's longest streak ever in the all-time series (seven straight wins twice).
  • The Knicks have won four in a row for the first time since April 2014. At 5-2 away from home, New York is tied for the second-best road winning percentage (.714) in the league (Golden State 7-0, 1.000). It is the Knicks' best start through seven road games since opening 5-2 in 2000-01.
  • The Heat overcame a 17-point deficit to beat Philadelphia in Miami on Saturday, 96-91. And for the season overall, the Heat rank in the Top 10 in both scoring offense (26.5, 7th) and scoring defense (23.8, 8th) in the fourth quarter.
  • Kristaps Porzingis, the fourth overall pick of the 2015 draft, blocked seven shots on Saturday. That was the highest single-game total by any rookie this season, as well as the top mark by any Knicks rookie since at least 1985-86.
  • Carmelo Anthony has scored at least 26 points in nine of his last 10 games against the Heat (since April 15, 2012). That includes a 50-point outburst at Miami on April 2, 2013, which is Anthony's best road total ever versus any opponent.
  • Dwyane Wade registered season highs with 11 made free throws and 27 points on Saturday. In the process, Wade moved past Dale Ellis (19,004) and Reggie Theus (19,015) and into 49th place on the all-time scoring list with 19,017 career points.
Tags: Miami Heat
Knicks look to run winning streak to five in a row against Miami Heat

Kristaps Porzingis was widely perceived as a long-term project when the New York Knicks drafted him fourth overall this year. Early returns suggest he's well ahead of schedule.

Porzingis and the Knicks look to run their season-high winning streak to five when they visit the Miami Heat on Monday night.

New York's selection of Porzingis in June drew the ire of fans and pundits alike, with many expecting the 20-year-old Latvian to need significant time to develop his game and make an impact in the NBA. He looks like he's already there, though, averaging 13.2 points - the most by a Knicks rookie since Mark Jackson's 13.6 in 1987-88 - and a team-high 8.8 rebounds.

Porzingis scored a season-high 29 and grabbed 11 rebounds in Tuesday's 102-94 win over Charlotte before being limited to a season-low seven points in Friday's 93-90 victory at Oklahoma City. He bounced back in a big way Saturday, finishing with 24 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocked shots in a season-high 36 minutes of a 107-102 win at Houston.

"It was concern from people who didn't know," said forward Carmelo Anthony, shooting 44.6 percent over the last eight games after making 36.6 percent in the first six. "People didn't know what to expect. Nobody had ever seen him before and people were all so upset that the Knicks drafted him."

Porzingis has been a major defensive asset with New York (8-6) allowing 99.3 points per 100 possessions when he's on the floor, second-fewest on the team.

"I know for a fact that that was one thing that jumped out to management and to Phil (Jackson) that was really impressive about his game on the defensive end," coach Derek Fisher said. "Everybody, of course, was fascinated by the shot-making, but we thought the activity on the defensive end was one thing that would really give him a chance to be good."

Miami (8-4) survived a scare Saturday, coming back from a 17-point third-quarter deficit in a 96-91 victory over winless Philadelphia behind Dwyane Wade's 27 points.

The Heat outscored the 76ers 29-17 in the fourth and have made a habit of saving their best for the final quarter. They're shooting 49.8 percent in those 12 minutes.

"You definitely have to give Philadelphia credit," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They really came out and competed and played a very good basketball game. This is not how you, as a coach, design it. But I did like seeing the toughness that we had to reveal in the fourth quarter."

Wade has made 37.9 percent from the field in his last six games, though he's totaled 51 points in the past two.

The Heat have been limited from 3-point range, hitting 6.3 shots per game from beyond the arc - among the worst marks in the league. Meanwhile, New York's Langston Galloway is shooting an NBA-best 55.3 percent on 3s.

Miami has won 17 of 23 meetings, including six in a row by an average of 16.2 points. The Knicks haven't won five straight games since an eight-game run March 5-21, 2014.

The Heat, continuing a home-heavy early schedule, are 7-2 at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Knicks are 5-2 on the road.

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis
Pressure slowly coming off Jose Calderon
Jose Calderon picked an opportune time to heat up in the Knicks' preseason finale. (AP)

Coming off an injury-riddled campaign, Jose Calderon's poor start to the new season suggested he might not be capable of handling starting point guard duties any longer. But many believed the return of Arron Afflalo would make things easier and relieve some of the pressure. That turned out to be correct.

The emergence of Kristaps Porzingis has also helped Calderon, and Carmelo Anthony's presence can't be ignored, either. Much like the Knicks have aimed to provide Anthony with more support, Calderon now has more weapons in his arsenal as a floor general.

Calderon hasn't been perfect, but there's no ignoring that his numbers have been rising through the Knicks' four-game winning streak, where he's averaged 9.5 points, five assists, and 1.3 steals. Perhaps more importantly is the fact that he's shot an efficient 57 percent and boasted a positive plus/minus in three out of the four contests. In the lone game he didn't, Calderon was tasked with defending Russell Westbrook.

Calderon is an underrated offensive weapon (in terms of scoring) in the Knicks' offense. Over the course of his career, his shooting prowess has been able to help his team spread the defense rather thin. If an opposing team has to worry about Calderon, there's less pressure focused on those around him. Such spacing has proven to be key in the success of Porzingis.

Thus far in his Knicks tenure, Calderon hasn't been much of a concern for the defense. His shooting during this winning streak is an indicator of how much he could continue to help.

A point guard will often be credited with making those around him better. Based on recent comments by the likes of Porzingis and Langston Galloway, there's no denying Calderon has been able to provide them with such guidance this season. It's still worth pondering, however, if Calderon is looking better simply because his teammates are displaying more confidence and acting more assertively, or vice versa.

Either way, Calderon hasn't been a liability as of late. It's difficult to say whether or not his slightly elevated play has made all the difference for the Knicks, or if players are simply otherwise beginning to their rhythms regardless. The jury is still out on that one. It doesn't hurt that he's looked more comfortable on the court.

On the defensive end, Calderon may still be a step or two slow (that likely won't change), but that's what the Knicks have Galloway and Jerian Grant for. If all three are at the top of their game, that's a rather strong trio at the one (New York sometimes plays two out of the three together as well).

Calderon has surely taken a step in the right direction, though. And whether it can be attributed to his own play or that of his teammates, fewer fingers are being pointed and the pressure is coming off of him.

Anthony Donahue and Moke Hamilton discuss the merits of Kristaps Porzingis' early season success, including his low-post game and wide wing span. Plus, the guys welcome Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders to the show for his take on what the Latvian's nickname should and shouldn't be.

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis
Porzingis leads Knicks to fourth straight victory in win over Rockets
Kristaps Porzingis led the way for the Knicks offensively against the Rockets on Saturday. (AP)

HOUSTON -- Kristaps Porzingis had 24 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocked shots to lead the New York Knicks to a 107-102 victory over the slumping Houston Rockets on Saturday night.

The Knicks (8-6) won their fourth straight overall. They also snapped an 11-game losing streak against the Rockets and a 10-game skid when playing in Houston.

The Knicks didn't get their eighth win last season until Jan. 23, when they were 8-36.

James Harden had 24 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds as the Rockets lost for the sixth time in their last seven games.

The Rockets threw a wide variety of defenders Porzingis' way, utilizing Harden's strength, Trevor Ariza's length or Terrence Jones' combination of those two attributes.

But the 7-foot-3 rookie found ways to score, mostly with his jump shot, helping the Knicks have just enough in the matchup of teams who were both playing for the second straight night.

With the game tied at 95 with less than three minutes remaining, Porzingis blocked Harden's layup, and Carmelo Anthony made a 3-pointer in transition. Porzingis later made two free throws to give New York a 100-99 lead with 1:22 left.

Ariza attempted a game-tying 3 with 20 seconds remaining, but it rimmed out and the Knicks rebounded.

Anthony picked up his third foul early in the second quarter and his fourth foul early in the third and was forced to watch much of the game from the bench. He was limited to just 14 points in 25 minutes.

Houston rested Dwight Howard, but his absence was barely noticed given the strong play from second-year center Clint Capela, who had the best game of his young career with career highs in points (16) and rebounds (14). Still, Houston fell to 1-4 without Howard.

The Knicks used a 34-point second quarter to hold a 58-53 lead at halftime. Porzingis had 10 points in that quarter on 4-of-5 shooting, including two 3s.

New York was 12 of 25 on 3s in the game.


Knicks: Langston Galloway, who leads the league in 3-point percentage, went 2 of 4 from beyond the arc. . Cleanthony Early (healthy scratch) was inactive for a sixth consecutive game. ... Several fans in attendance wore New York Jets apparel and cheered for the Knicks. The Jets visit the Houston Texans on Sunday.

Rockets: Houston missed six of its first 12 free throws and finished the game 20 of 28. . Houston was without PG Patrick Beverley (ankle) for a fifth straight game, but he is on track to return to action Wednesday against Memphis. . Capela was one rebound shy of a double-double at halftime.


Knicks: Visit Miami on Monday.

Rockets: Host Memphis on Wednesday.

Knicks look for fourth straight win vs. Rockets
Nov 20, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) fouls New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) during the first quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports (Mark D. Smith)

(AP) -- It's been 11 years since the New York Knicks won at Houston. They may be catching the sputtering Rockets at an opportune time to prevent that streak from continuing.

The Knicks look to win their fourth straight Saturday night and end an 11-game overall slide against Houston.

New York (7-6) has lost 19 of its last 20 meetings with the Rockets (5-8), including all 10 at Houston by an average of 12.0 points since last winning there on Nov. 18, 2004.

The Knicks enter this visit with a season-best three-game win streak, limiting opponents to an average of 90.3 points on 42.0 percent shooting - 14 of 70 from 3-point range - during that run.

The Rockets are in a major lull that cost coach Kevin McHale his job earlier this week after he guided them to the Western Conference finals last season. They've dropped five of the last six games, falling 96-84 at Memphis on Friday in their lowest scoring effort of the season.

"I think we were just struggling to find our shots," said interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who is 1-1 since replacing McHale. "We missed 15 shots in the paint, missed 15 free throws and turned the ball over 23 times."

Friday marked another poor shooting performance by Houston, which shot 37.8 percent - including 6 of 29 from beyond the arc - and made only two baskets in a 14-point fourth quarter.

The Rockets rank near the bottom of the league with a 41.3 field-goal percentage.

"We have got to find a way to get baskets, especially with a team like that," said guard Jason Terry, who scored two points on 1-of 5 shooting.

James Harden is among the league leaders with 28.2 points per game, but he's making just 25.6 percent of his 3s after hitting 37.5 last season. The All-Star guard missed 6 of 7 attempts from long range but still finished with 22 points against the Grizzlies.

Harden, though, is averaging 31.3 points while connecting on 51.7 percent from the field - 49.0 from deep - over his last seven meetings with the Knicks.

He won't have Dwight Howard's inside presence Saturday as Houston plans on resting the team's second-leading scorer with games on consecutive days. The Rockets have lost three of four without him this season.

"That's the plan for now," Bickerstaff said.

New York opened a four-game road trip with Friday's 93-90 victory over Oklahoma City, holding on after nearly blowing a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter. Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points for the Knicks, who limited the Thunder to season lows of 38.0 percent from the floor and 3 for 29 from 3-point range.

"Just reminding the guys that the end result is just figuring out a way to win, regardless of how it looks," coach Derek Fisher said. "We will keep working at cleaning things up and trying to finish it better."

Anthony could be poised for a big game, having averaged 32.7 points over his last 10 against the Rockets.

New York extended its win streak Friday with a limited contribution from rookie Kristaps Porzingis, who had seven points and six rebounds after he had 29 and 11 in a 102-94 victory over Charlotte on Tuesday.

The Knicks already have seven wins, a total they didn't reach last season until Jan. 21.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Houston Rockets , Kristaps Porzingis
Knicks vs. Thunder Observations
Carmelo Anthony discusses the pressures of playing in New York. (AP)

When Derek Fisher returned to Oklahoma City last season for the first time as a head coach, all he could do was helplessly watch from the sidelines as the Knicks were pummeled en route to an eye-popping loss. 

On Friday night, Carmelo Anthony, Fisher, and Co. made sure such a defeat was clearly in the past. The Knicks came away with a victory over the Thunder, thanks to some fantastic shooting (46% from the field and 60% from deep) and even better ball movement. A far as a balanced effort goes, this might have been New York's best outing since their season-opening romp of the Bucks. That said, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder made them work for it until the very end. 

Pesky defense was applied all night long, pressuring the Knicks into a lot of careful turnovers. What's more, the visiting team was killed on the boards, with OKC prevailing 49-36. The Thunder also grabbed an impressive 21 offensive rebounds. The Knicks aren't quite aware how to keep their foot steadily on a defender's neck as the pressure mounts during crunch time, but the team's earlier effort was so strong that they were luckily able to hold onto this one. Here's a look at some other observations from the game.

- There's no doubt that Carmelo Anthony is getting better and more efficient as the season progresses. He shot 9 of 20, but even more impressive was his shot selection. The forward was very smart with the ball, attacking the basket, getting to the free-throw line often, and taking intelligent shots from the perimeter. The team even isolated for him a bit more than what's been seen this season.

- Derrick Williams played a really strong fifteen minutes off the bench. The 9 points he scored were his most in two weeks, and he confidently put an exclamation point on his effort with two daggers from deep early in the fourth quarter.

- With a defined role and consistent minutes has undoubtedly also come added confidence for Lance Thomas. He's evolving from someone who strictly does the dirty work into a player who actively looks at the basket as well. He converted on some mid-range shots and pounded home an electrifying dunk on a few nice passes. He led the bench with 12 points.

- Coach Fisher drew more of a line between playing his starters together, and sending out five reserves at the same time on Friday. All four starters surrounding Anthony looked very good. Robin Lopez was very active and aware on the defensive end. He and Kristaps Porzingis were the Knicks' lone bright spots on the boards. Jose Calderon ran the floor well and put forth a somewhat respectable effort on the defensive end against Westbrook. Arron Afflalo added a solid 14 points behind Anthony.

- The fact that the Knicks won despite a weak effort on the boards, careless turnovers, and a potential fourth quarter meltdown is quietly very promising. They persevered, and worked hard to earn the victory by succeeding in other ways. There is room to improve, but should the Knicks be able to do so in the various areas little by little, they will remain competitive, and perhaps even formidable sooner than later. 

Anthony scores 25 as Knicks hold off Thunder, 93-90
Nov 20, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) drives to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder guard Andre Roberson (21) during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports (Mark D. Smith)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points to help the New York Knicks defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 93-90 on Friday night for their third straight win.

The Thunder rallied from a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter, but Dion Waiters' potential game-tying shot rattled out at the buzzer.

Arron Afflalo scored 14 points and Lance Thomas added 12 for the Knicks, who made 12 of 20 3-pointers.

Russell Westbrook led Oklahoma City with 34 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, but the NBA's No. 3 scorer made just 11 of 29 shots and went 2 of 10 on 3-pointers. Waiters added 16 points for the Thunder, who shot 38 percent and finished 3 of 29 from long range.

Oklahoma City fell to 2-3 without Kevin Durant, who sat out with a left hamstring strain.

Back-to-back 3s by Derrick Williams gave the Knicks an 82-66 lead with just under 9 minutes remaining.

A three-point play by Waiters trimmed Oklahoma City's deficit to six with about 2 minutes left. After Westbrook got a steal, Afflalo fouled Westbrook as he went to the rim. It was called a flagrant on the floor but changed to a common foul upon review. Westbrook made both free throws to cut New York's lead to 89-85.

Westbrook fouled Anthony, and he grimaced and tried to stretch out his right arm before shooting the free throws. He missed both with 32.2 seconds left.

Serge Ibaka got a good look for the Thunder, but he missed a 3-pointer from the right corner, and Robin Lopez made two free throws with 24.7 seconds left to make it a six-point game.

Westbrook made an off-balance 3 to cut New York's lead to three, then the Knicks threw away the inbounds pass with 11.8 seconds remaining. Westbrook missed a 3-pointer, and Waiters tracked down the ball in the backcourt before missing at the buzzer.



Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis, a 7-foot-3 rookie forward, opened the scoring with a 3-pointer. ... Derek Fisher played for the Thunder before retiring and taking over as Knicks coach last season. ... Langston Galloway, who entered the game leading the NBA in 3-point percentage, went 1 of 2 from long range. ... Thomas, who started last season with Oklahoma City, scored seven points in the third period to help the Knicks take a 73-62 edge into the fourth. ... New York won despite committing 20 turnovers.

Thunder: Waiters started for the first time this season. Anthony Morrow had started the previous four games, but struggled with his shot. ... Enes Kanter had 11 points and 13 rebounds in 24:48 off the bench. ... Oklahoma City outrebounded the Knicks 49-36.


The Knicks are at Houston on Saturday.

The Thunder host Dallas on Sunday.

Tags: Aaron Afflalo , Carmelo Anthony , Kristaps Porzingis , Lance Thomas
Tonight's Game: New York Knicks at Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after being fouled on a made shot (Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

The Knicks are in Oklahoma City on Friday to take on the Thunder at 8 p.m. ET.

According to STATS...

  • Oklahoma City has won 11 of the last 15 games in this series, including seven of their last eight on their home floor.
  • The Knicks' win over Charlotte on Tuesday evened their season record at 6-6. In 2014-15, New York didn't pick up its sixth win until its 42nd game of the season.
  • The Thunder are pulling down an average of 13.4 offensive rebounds per game in 2015-16, and have had at least 10 in all but one game. The 13.4 offensive boards per game rank second in the NBA (Det, 14.0).
  • Kristaps Porzingis had a career-high 29 points and added 11 rebounds in Tuesday's win over the Hornets. Porzingis has five 10+ rebound performances in his first 12 games of his NBA career; that's already the most by any Knicks' rookie in an entire season since 2010-11 (Landry Fields, 15).
  • Enes Kanter had 24 points and 14 rebounds off the bench in Wednesday's win over the Pelicans. It was the third time this season that he has come off the bench to record a double-double; Oklahoma City is 3-0 in those contests.
  • Russell Westbrook has had back-to-back games with 40+ points and 8+ assists. The last player to have 40+ points and 8+ assists in three consecutive contests was Allen Iverson, April 7-11, 1997.
Tags: Oklahoma City Thunder
Knicks take on Thunder without Durant on Friday night
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)

(AP) -- The Oklahoma City Thunder look like they'll be without Kevin Durant for at least one more game. Given Russell Westbrook's play of late and their success at home against the New York Knicks, they probably won't miss him.

Westbrook can register a third consecutive 40-point performance Friday night when the Thunder take on a Knicks team looking to win three in a row for the first time in 10 months.

Durant has missed the last four games after straining his hamstring in Washington on Nov. 10. He's listed as doubtful for this one, with a return Sunday against Dallas more likely.

The Thunder (7-5) have split the four games he's missed and avoided a third straight loss by beating New Orleans 110-103 on Wednesday in the opener of a three-game homestand.

Westbrook had 43 points, nine rebounds and eight assists after scoring 40 with 14 assists in a 122-114 loss at Memphis on Monday. He made 27 of 44 shots (61.4 percent) in those games after shooting 31.0 percent (13 for 42) in the first two without Durant.

"Obviously, Russell had another really efficient game," coach Billy Donovan said. "He did some very, very good things."

Westbrook scored 12 of the Thunder's final 15 points Wednesday and is on the verge of three straight 40-point efforts for the second time in his career. He scored 40, 49 and 43 from Feb. 27-March 5.

"It's just attack mode," said Westbrook, averaging 28.1 points after winning the scoring title last season with that same mark. "Regardless of who is there, I know I'm kind of able to get in the paint and kind of disrupt the defense. My job is to be able to attack and take what the defense gives me."

He had one of his 15 career 40-point games last season in New York, scoring 40 in a 100-92 loss in January. Westbrook also scored 32 on 12-of-17 shooting in a 105-78 rout last November that improved the Thunder to 6-1 all-time in the series in Oklahoma City.

Carmelo Anthony didn't play in that one due to back spasms and had 31 points to pace the Knicks in the matchup at Madison Square Garden. He's leading New York (6-6) with 23.1 points per game this season, but rookie forward Kristaps Porzingis has received the most buzz.

The No. 4 overall pick is coming off a season-best 29 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds for his fifth double-double in Tuesday's 102-94 home win over Charlotte.

"It's just one game. I want to keep doing this. Melo is doing this for every game," Porzingis said. "So the easy part is to play one game like that, the hard part to keep playing at this level."

Porzingis is among the rookie leaders with 12.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 25.3 minutes per game for an improved Knicks team that didn't win its sixth game last season until their 42nd game on Jan. 19 - the start of its last three-game run.

"Whether or not he'll ever be able to do this nightly we don't know at this point, but because of the combination of skills and abilities at some point it's all going to come together," coach Derek Fisher said. "One night like tonight and then in a couple of weeks maybe there will be another night like tonight, but you could see he's getting more comfortable each game."

Kevin McHale's firing is a reminder of harsh reality for Fisher
(Tom Szczerbowski)

On Thursday, the Rockets fired head coach Kevin McHale following a 4-7 start to the year. Houston reached the Western Conference Finals last year, but the conference is fiercely competitive and there was a genuine belief that McHale had lost the locker room. When that happens, there's often no turning back.

As Derek Fisher struggled through his first year as a head coach last season, many of his struggles were attributed to having to learn on the fly. Whether he lost the locker room was never really a question, simply because Phil Jackson opted to overhaul the team's roster over the course of the season and this past summer. Nevertheless, Fisher knows that McHale's ousting is an indication of the harsh reality for all head coaches, him included.

"We just unfortunately lost a coach in Houston [Kevin McHale] that was in the Western Conference finals a year ago,'' The team was 4-7 and he lost his job. The idea as a coach I can look at next July and have anything guaranteed about that is probably not the right perspective," Fisher said when asked about New York's potential recruitment of Kevin Durant next summer. (New York Post, Nov. 19).

As promised, the Knicks significantly improved their supporting cast around Carmelo Anthony this offseason. The group is a talented one, perhaps even more so than they are sometimes getting credit for. With a 6-6 record heading into Friday's matchup with the Thunder, New York has impressed.

Plenty of names and faces on the court have changed, but the Knicks' leader on the sidelines is still the same. As such, many elements and tendencies from Fisher's turbulent first season still remain. He's still learning, and sometimes, leaves himself and the Knicks looking vulnerable. One could argue that the team is playing so well in spite of him, rather than because of him.

If they happen to hit a skid, it'll likely be easier to point to something Fisher is doing and/or not doing, rather than placing blame on the players themselves. He hasn't rolled out a consistent rotation, fails to call timeouts when seemingly necessary, and the plays he draws up following timeouts often aren't very effective. Taking time to figure out player minutes is one thing, but he should be improving as a coach in the subsequent two categories.

Fisher has been given much longer of a leash than he deserved. If the Knicks keep winning, that's great for him. The better the Knicks do (regardless of whether or not it's due to Fisher's ability to lead), the longer he'll have to learn, grow, and adjust. McHale's ousting should not only be a wakeup call to him, but also a reminder to Jackson that the pressure should be on his coach to succeed following last season's failure. The two situations are obviously different, but perhaps the Knicks will need to display similar urgency, should things go south.

Tags: Keith Schlosser
GEICO SportsNite: NY Knicks
New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) during their game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Kristaps Porzingis is turning heads, gaining Twitter followers and selling out jerseys with his performances thus far for the Knicks. >> Watch now

Can Porzingis rise up as efficient secondary scorer?
The Knicks hope there are more games like Tuesday's in Kristaps Porzingis' future. (AP)

Kristaps Porzingis led the way as the Knicks defeated the Hornets on Tuesday, but no one is expecting him to log such massive efforts like that on a nightly basis. As the team's superstar, that's obviously still Carmelo Anthony's job.

But it's been said repeatedly that Anthony needs help. The Knicks didn't reel in any superstars this past summer, instead hoping strong depth would result in a well-balanced effort made by all. This is a good mentality to have, but only to an extent. Players are working so hard to be unselfish that very few have displayed that killer instinct necessary to attack the basket.

Arron Afflalo scored a season-high 16 points against Charlotte, but head coach Derek Fisher and Co. have seemingly been hesitant to run plays that specifically feature him offensively. The same can be said about other players, such as Derrick Williams and even Robin Lopez.

That's one of the many reasons why Porzingis' breakout performance had so much meaning. To date, he's displayed confidence and assertiveness, but not much efficiency. His latest showing was much more promising.

It's clear that Porzingis likes the pressure, attention, and drama that comes with playing under the Garden's bright lights. The Knicks are obviously dedicated to easing him in and not overwhelming him too much with regard to minutes played and/or expediting his development too quickly. There are things that he needs to improve upon, but that will come with time. But there's nothing wrong with cashing in on what he already does so well: scoring the basketball.

A key to his success Tuesday was the way the Knicks moved around him. Players were moving without the ball in an attempt to spread the defense thin. It worked quite well. Porzingis is already a strong rebounder and isn't afraid to crash the boards and follow up shots with aggression. From there, he'll create easier opportunities or find himself at the free-throw line rather often.

With the Knicks in desperate need of a secondary scoring option, however, it's time to explore featuring Porzingis around the perimeter. He's great at finding his own offense because he often attacks with little hesitation, but plays need to be run for him. On Tuesday, elements of the triangle offense were still there. Porzingis was posting up defenders, fading away, and even working in some of the Dream Shake.

Following his 29 point outing, Porzingis is second on the team in points with 12.8 per game while shooting just 41 percent from the field.

Porzingis has the potential to average at least 15 or 16 points, but it's up to his teammates to get him higher percentage looks, especially when he moves away from the basket. Should Porzingis go on to draw more double-teams as a result, the Knicks will win if players are actively waiting around the perimeter for passes back out as well. That'll be key to the success of Porzingis, while he fills a void for New York in the process.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Kristaps Porzingis , Keith Schlosser
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Carmelo stands behind Porzingis, in front of Lin
Carmelo Anthony had nothing but praise for the stellar play of Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis after the team's win Tuesday night. (AP)

Kristaps Porzingis' 29 point, 11 rebound effort on Tuesday was undoubtedly his breakout performance of this young season. There's no doubt the crowd was electrified throughout with roars of "M.V.P." chants and that of the rookie's name. His teammates were clearly energized as well, throwing their hands up, pumping their fists, and dancing and prancing from the sidelines. They supported him.

"It felt good to hear his name being chanted in our arena," Carmelo Anthony said following the win. "I'm proud of him."

"I'm pretty sure this will be the first of many that you all see," he added (ESPN, November 18).

The scene at the Garden on Tuesday was similar to that of February 4th, 2012, when Jeremy Lin emerged off the bench to score 25 points against the Nets. With that, Linsanity was born.

Lin's heroics came as his teammates watched in awe and utter disbelief that night. Well regarded following a rather high draft selection, many might have expected such a performance from Porzingis. It was just a matter of when.

"I knew he was ready," Anthony said Tuesday. "I knew what to expect coming in."

Coincidentally enough, the big man's own thrilling performance came in front of Lin, as the guard matched up against the Knicks as an opponent. The sounds, as well as the scene, complete with teammate celebrations and all, had to give Lin a bit of deja vu.

Lin's own Knickerbocker tenure ended after he signed what Anthony ultimately called a "ridiculous" offer sheet with the Houston Rockets that following summer. As Lin steadily became the center of attention in the Big Apple, rumors arose that there was tension between he and Anthony, the team's already present resident superstar.

Three and a half years later, and arguably for the first time since, Knicks fans have someone else they want to cheer for as much, if not perhaps more, than Anthony in Porzingis. He's the team's future, and while Anthony represents the present, the rookie sees no reason why he can't provide an assist sooner rather than later.

"Everybody was saying, 'project,' 'a few years,' I will get better in a few years, but I knew I was able to play right now," Porzingis said.

Such a vision of Anthony and Lin working side by side to help lead the Knicks to greatness was never expressed, let alone given a chance.

The Knicks totaled 54 wins without Lin during the 2012-13 season, but since, things have steadily gone downhill. As a result, the city and New York's fan base is growing inpatient. As the main man in orange and blue, there's more pressure on Anthony to succeed than ever before, especially following an injury-riddled campaign last season.

Tuesday night's atmosphere was undoubtedly similar to the look and feel of Linsanity, but the Knicks surely hope the end result will not only be different, but that the positive effects will be longer lasting. Rooting for the underdog is always fun for fans. There isn't much to compare about what Lin and Porzingis do on the court, but the way they can get the fans involved is similar. With that in mind, Anthony has to share the spotlight a bit.

For what it's worth, Anthony appears ready, willing, and able to accept the help. One could even argue that his outgoing support of Porzingis is actually helping the young gun on the court. If the win over Charlotte is any indication, New York has the opportunity to achieve something very special if Anthony and Porzingis continue working together.

Tags: Keith Schlosser
Observations from the Knicks' win
The Knicks hope there are more games like Tuesday's in Kristaps Porzingis' future. (AP)

In what the Knicks hope will become a popular and likely trend for years to come, Kristaps Porzingis led his team to victory over Charlotte on Tuesday night. The big man was downright dominant all night long, proving to be confident, assertive, and efficient in the process. While the first two traits are ones the Knicks are already accustomed to, such efficiency was welcomed with open arms. Porzingis has been so good around the rim this season, as his long arms and respective length (and good instincts, to boot) provide New York with a special rebounding presence they haven't been privy to in recent years. What's more, he's also often undeterred. When Porzingis has his eyes on the basket, he goes for buckets with full gusto. He doesn't have the best finishing ability, but he'll get the ball up in the air and draws fouls rather well. He made all seven free-throw attempts.

The big man attacked, and the Hornets could do little to slow him down time and time again.

On Tuesday, the Knicks made things much easier for Porzingis by opening up the floor, spreading things out along the perimeter. This provided him with the space and relative comfort necessary to pour in the points from all over. Such versatility kept the defense guessing. All of this led to a rather dominant night for the big man, complete with "M.V.P." chants from the crowd. All in all, a great night for the Knicks.

Here are a few more observations from the game: 

  • The emergence of Porzingis was especially special for the Knicks, because Carmelo Anthony had an off night from the field. This proved that even when their star is struggling, they can still find other ways to win. While they can't depend on Porzingis to score 29 points every night obviously, it was a sign that in drafting him, the Knicks had taken a step in the right direction by providing Anthony with the support he needs. It's up to the other players to step up in similar fashion when necessary.
  • Anthony contributed in other ways with 11 rebounds and 5 assists, and he wasn't the only one. The Knicks had five players dish out 3 assists or more. As mentioned, ball movement was terrific all night long.
  • Led profoundly by Porzingis, a great third quarter ultimately propelled the Knicks to victory. Perhaps some tired legs led to shooting struggles later in the fourth, but New York applied pressure and came up with a couple of stops on the defensive end en route to securing the victory for good.
  • Arron Afflalo had his best game as a Knick, scoring 16 points on 7 of 15 from the field. That's tremendous for New York, who will need him to string together more of these efforts. They need a secondary scorer to depend on. Afflalo still has the potential to step up and be that guy on a consistent basis.
  • As Porzingis carried his team to victory, the Knicks' bench underwhelmed. Kevin Seraphin logged another double-digit scoring effort and Langston Galloway knocked down three daggers from deep, but the starters undoubtedly shouldered more of the burden for a change. The team was undoubtedly better with more starters on the floor. That's not a big surprise, but it's certainly not what the Knicks have gotten used to this season.
Tags: Keith Schlosser
GEICO SportsNite: Porzingis 00:01:01
Derek Fisher, Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony discuss Porzingis' big game and how it felt when the Garden crowd chanted his name.

Derek Fisher, Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony discuss Porzingis' big game and how it felt when the Garden crowd chanted his name.


Porzingis scores 29 as Knicks top Hornets

Rookie Kristaps Porzingis scored a season-high 29 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and the New York Knicks beat the Charlotte Hornets 102-94 on Tuesday night.

Less than a week after he just missed beating the Hornets when his 3-pointer was ruled after the buzzer, Porzingis couldn't be denied by Charlotte defenders or the clock in the 20-year-old Latvian's biggest moment in the NBA.

The slender, 7-foot-3 forward who was thunderously booed when the Knicks drafted him with the No. 4 pick had fans chanting "Por-zing-is! Por-zing-is!" in the fourth quarter, shortly after his three-point play following an offensive rebound gave the Knicks a 93-81 lead.

Carmelo Anthony added 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks. Arron Afflalo scored 16.

Kemba Walker scored a season-high 31 points for the Hornets, but reigning Eastern Conference player of the week Nicolas Batum had only one basket and four points.


Batum averaged 25.5 points last week, and one of the Hornets' victories came when they edged the Knicks 95-93 after video review waved off Porzingis' apparent winner.

The Hornets charged back in this one behind Walker, a New Yorker who's had plenty of big nights here in high school and while playing for Connecticut, cutting it to four as the Knicks' offense stalled down the stretch.

But Anthony blocked Batum's 3-point attempt and former Knicks star Jeremy Lin shot an airball on another before Porzingis grabbed the rebound and was fouled, hitting both free throws to make it 100-94 with 11.3 seconds left.

Lin finished with 13 points but Charlotte had its four-game winning streak over the Knicks snapped.


Hornets: Starting forward P.J. Hairston missed the game with a bruised right thigh and might be out a couple of games. Coach Steve Clifford said he thought there was "no chance" Hairston would return Wednesday, adding that the second-year player "tried to do some stuff today and he's not even close." … F Marvin Williams was ejected for flagrantly fouling Lou Amundson in the fourth quarter.

Knicks: The team wore uniforms it used from 1953-61, with alternating orange-and-blue trim around the neck and vertically along the sides of the jerseys and shorts. They did have player names on the back, which weren't on the originals.


Not surprisingly, former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni gave a strong endorsement when Charlotte was considering signing Lin. D'Antoni worked with Clifford with the Lakers after his time in New York, and Clifford said D'Antoni loved Lin. "When we were with the Lakers, Mike was always saying if there was any way to get Jeremy Lin we should try to do it," Clifford said. "So, oh yeah, he's a huge fan."


Knicks fans love Porzingis, but the two biggest ovations might have been for guys who weren't even playing. Hall of Fame center Willis Reed, who led the Knicks to two championships, was sitting courtside, and Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, now Charlotte's associate head coach, got huge applause after a third-quarter video tribute.


After playing seven of their first 11 on the road - following a preseason trip to China - the Hornets will finally get some time at home. They open a seven-game homestand Wednesday and don't have another road game until Dec. 5.


Hornets: Host Brooklyn on Wednesday.

Knicks: Visit Oklahoma City on Friday.

Knicks F Lou Amundson left Tuesday's game with roughly eight minutes left in the fourth quarter after being elbowed in the head by Hornets F Marvin Williams.

Amundson did not return due to a lacerated scalp, but the Knicks said after the game that he did not require stitches and did not have a concussion.

Williams was ejected from the game for the foul that was ruled a flagrant 2 after review.

The Charlotte Hornets visit New York on Tuesday night to take on the Knicks at 7:30 p.m.

According to STATS…

  • The Hornets have won four consecutive games against the Knicks, matching their longest win streaks ever (two other occasions) against the Knicks.
  • The Hornets, who hit 15 three-pointers in their last road game (Friday vs. Bulls), have hit at least 14 three-pointers on three occasions already this season, after completing the feat just once over their previous 18 seasons.
  • The Knicks have held each of their last five opponents at home to fewer than 100 points - the third-longest active streak in the NBA (Spurs 13, Heat seven).
  • Since Halloween, the Knicks have averaged an NBA-low 31.6 points per game inside the paint, as they have scored fewer than 35 points inside the paint in seven of their last nine games.
  • Nicolas Batum has scored at least 24 points and made at least 10 field goals in three consecutive games for the first time in his NBA career.
  • Carmelo Anthony has scored at least 24 points in each of his last five games - tied for the second-longest active streak in the NBA (Paul George, seven).
Derek Fisher praises Kristaps Porzingis' versatility
(Chuck Burton/AP)

As he develops into more of a complete player, Kristaps Porzingis is working on his post-up game. Though Derek Fisher isn't ready to showcase such an ability in the Knicks' offense just yet, he still praises the big man's versatility.

"I think Kris' size and length and the fact that he could shoot the ball from wherever he is on the floor, you have to respect that, Fisher said. "That sets up a lot of opportunities to make moves, countermoves, and he'll develop those things as he matures and kind of learns how to play offense in the NBA."

"His ability to shoot the basketball just opens up so many possibilities at the end of games. And then also his athleticism where you can run lob plays to the rim also opens up a lot of possibilities," he added. "Carmelo setting really good screens at the end of games is going to be challenging for opponents because his guy normally doesn't want to leave him. So there's a lot we'll be able to do at the end of those games." (New York Daily News, November 16). 

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

The NBA is obviously a small-ball league at this point, which is arguably why the Knicks have explored playing Porzingis at the five already in this young season. Still, his length is a huge asset and should provide him with a big advantage against opposing power forwards.


Porzingis is said to have plenty of range in his arsenal, but that hasn't been on display much this season. Perhaps a way to help him get into a rhythm (and one could also say increase his confidence level, though that might not necessarily apply to his assertive character) is encourage and/or create higher percentage looks closer at the basket.

The young gun's been very physical through eleven games. The Knicks have to appreciate that, because he confidently crashes the boards and looks to attack the basket. His finishing ability at the rim may be not as polished, but Porzingis isn't one to hesitate much. This often leads to more free-throw opportunities.

Porzingis is clearly ambitious. That's wonderful for the Knicks' long term hopes and goals. It would make sense that Fisher wants him to conquer one aspect of his game at a time, as a means of simply not overwhelming early on. But perhaps better shooting comes with also making better decisions, as well as having those around him create better spacing and/or set him up with smarter passes.

For now, Porzingis should be discouraged from shooting the three ball. That said, things will open up for him more around the perimeter if the Knicks space the floor. What's more, there's no reason Porzingis can't be featured as a post-up player and/or actively push off defenders for easy hook-shots in the triangle offense.

Porzingis still has a lot to learn on both ends of the floor, but he may have a point in helping the game come easier to him right now.

Tags: Keith Schlosser
GEICO SportsNite: Porzingis 00:00:42
Knicks head coach Derek Fisher and rookie power forward Kristaps Porzingis discuss the big man's first 11 games in the NBA.

Knicks head coach Derek Fisher and rookie power forward Kristaps Porzingis discuss the big man's first 11 games in the NBA.

Is Seraphin's breakout game proof that depth is being mismanaged?
Kevin Seraphin backs down a defender in a preseason game. (AP)

On Sunday, Kevin Seraphin's 12 point performance not only represented his best of the season, but also the first time he's scored in double-fingers since the Knicks' first preseason game. It was also the first time, since, that he had played more than 13 minutes in a game.

The 25 year old fought through a nagging injury in the preseason, but since regaining form, hasn't gotten the minutes such aforementioned performances suggest he needs.

This has seemingly been the case for many other Knicks so far in the early goings, such as Derrick Williams, Kyle O'Quinn, and even Robin Lopez. New York has had multiple games where Coach Derek Fisher has ushered every one of his soldiers out onto the hardwood. While it's one thing to say the season is still young and it's worthwhile figuring things out, such experiments are detrimental to the players who clearly deserve and require the minutes to be productive.

O'Quinn is a great example. The big man is a high energy guy whose positive impact on a game is not only often evident, but clearly infectious as well. In every game that he's played 12 minutes or more, O'Quinn has logged at least six points. He's also grabbed at least five rebounds in all but one of those games. In the two games during which he's played more than twenty minutes, O'Quinn has also logged at least 10 rebounds and 3 assists.

Needless to say, he's been productive. With that in mind, playing O'Quinn just 12 total minutes over the last two games is questionable, to say the least. After scoring 24 points in just 21 minutes in the Knicks' season-opening win, Derrick Williams is yet to see as much playing time in any of the games that have followed. Robin Lopez's 25.8 minutes per game represents his lowest minutes average in four seasons.

The Knicks' frontline is obviously a crowded one. Aside from Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, Lance Thomas is the only other member receiving consistent minutes; he's yet to play fewer than 15 minutes in a contest. Even Lopez, the team's starting center, cannot say the same thing.


A few things to note; at 5-6, the Knicks have looked competitive. They were 5-36 through 41 games last season, so this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. And of course, different players will hear their numbers called (at least, more often) on a nightly basis depending on the matchup at hand.

Nevertheless, underutilizing players and/or otherwise tossing them to the curb is another thing. The Knicks have tremendous depth, and that should continue to be viewed as an asset. Not providing certain players with consistent minutes could be considered negligence when taking into account how well a player (O'Quinn is still the best example of the bunch) is performing. There needs to be consistency, and Coach Fisher should provide such players with an assist in the form of balanced playing time in order to help them find respective rhythms.

If they aren't receiving the minutes necessary, there's a good chance players will underwhelm when suddenly called upon again.

Players need to rewarded for good play. It'd be a shame to see Seraphin's great outing on Sunday be disregarded in the games to come. When a player like Porzingis is shooting 36% in his last six games, there are reserves nipping at his heels, hungry for more minutes, in the meantime.

Coach Fisher needs to find a better way of utilizing the talent the team has available to them, because otherwise, it'll go to waste and certain players may not necessarily be ready when actually needed.

GEICO SportsNite: Knicks win 00:01:40
Frenchman Kevin Seraphin discusses an emotional night at the Garden in which he scored 12 points to help the Knicks beat the Pelicans.

Sunday afternoon's noon matinee against the Pelicans started as to be expected: slow moving with little ball pressure all around as both teams took a while to get their legs under them 

With that in mind, the Knicks were able to stand their ground with the injury-decimated Pelicans throughout. Nevertheless, the dominance of Anthony Davis made hanging around for very long look highly unlikely. Davis was nearly unstoppable; he crashed the boards and drove to the basket quite well. Often times, he faded away and challenged defenders like Kristaps Porzingis and Kevin Seraphin to come out on him a bit. Pouring in 36 points, it's safe to say not much was done to slow Davis at all.

Luckily for the Knicks, no one else really showed up for New Orleans. Unfortunately for the opponent, Davis could only carry them for so long. This allowed the Knicks to pounce and put the finishing touches on a victory late in the fourth quarter. Ironically enough, this is what so many other teams have done to New York in the past as their own late effort wavers. The team could learn a few things for future matchups by watching how they kept their collective foot on New Orleans' neck. Here's a look at some other observations from the 95-87 win.

  • Though his 29 points didn't represent a season-high, one could argue this was Carmelo Anthony's best game of the young season. Not only was he efficient, but also smart with the ball (just two turnovers). He worked hard to get the shots he wanted. There was a certain assertiveness in his game, as evidenced by his 13 rebounds. Anthony looked like the superstar the Knicks need, and even dished out a few sweet passes.
  • This was clearly Kevin Seraphin's best showing in a Knicks uniform to date. The big man brought the type of physicality he displayed early in preseason. He drew offensive fouls and frustrated the Pelicans' front line. With so many of his teammates looking to do the little things, Seraphin boasts a welcomed confidence and aggression because he likes to take the ball to the basket. Aside from Porzingis, none of the Knicks' other big men can say the same.
  • With a 4-for-15 performance from the field, Porzingis is now shooting 36 percent in his last six games. He should be an asset on the offensive end, but the Knicks are winning despite of him. The Knicks should learn from their mistakes with Anthony earlier in the season and apply such lessons to their strategy with Porzingis. There's no need to force things. Instruct him to move better without the ball so he can get higher-percentage looks. Defensively, Porzingis is slowly but surely learning how to commit smarter fouls if necessary . Though he was light on the boards Sunday (four rebounds), his rebounding overall has been impressive.
  • The Knicks ground out this victory, but they may not have had to. Derek Fisher's rotations still leave very much to be desired. One could argue that he's not using the right players and distributing the minutes accordingly. More than that, however, regardless of who Fisher believes in, it's important they get the playing time necessary to find a rhythm and be given a fair shot. Inconsistent minutes all around are making the Knicks' otherwise impressive depth a much weaker asset than before. Robin Lopez, Kyle O'Quinn, and Derrick Williams only totaled 29 minutes between them.
  • Jerian Grant looked to have a little trouble today, despite a plus/minus of plus-5. He was a bit erratic with the ball and seemed to be going too fast in the half-court set. There's nothing wrong with slowing things down in order to make the right decisions.
Anthony's 29 points lead Knicks past the Pelicans 95-87
The Knicks put two straight losses behind them with a 95-87 win over the Pelicans on Sunday afternoon. (AP)

NEW YORK (AP) Carmelo Anthony had 29 points and 13 rebounds, and the Knicks beat the New Orleans Pelicans 95-87 on Sunday.

Langston Galloway scored 15 points and fellow reserve Kevin Seraphin had 12 for New York, which was coming off consecutive losses to Charlotte and Cleveland. Rookie Kristaps Porzingishad 10 points on 4-of-15 shooting.

Anthony Davis had 36 points and 11 rebounds for New Orleans, and Ryan Anderson scored 16 points.

The Pelicans have lost three in a row and nine of 10 to begin the season. They are winless in six road games.

Anderson made two foul shots and Jrue Holiday had a driving layup to trim New York's lead to 89-85 with 1:53 left. But Anthony made four free throws and Galloway also hit two foul shots to help the Knicks hold on.

Seraphin, a Frenchman who shaved "PARIS" into his hair in remembrance of the terror attack in France, had 10 points, seven rebounds and no assists in six games coming into the day. He was 6 for 8 from the field in 14 minutes against New Orleans, and also contributed three rebounds and two assists.

GEICO SportsNite: Knicks 00:00:43
Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony discuss the Knicks' 90-84 loss to the Cavaliers and how they were unable to execute in crunch time.

Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony discuss the Knicks' 90-84 loss to the Cavaliers and how they were unable to execute in crunch time.

Losses mount, but in there, somewhere, the Knicks just might be a good team
Despite two losses in a row, the Knicks are showing signs that they're improving. (AP)

Arron Afflalo has played all of two games as a member of the New York Knicks and he has already paid major dividends, but if Carmelo Anthony isn't the one with the basketball in his hands when the game is on the line-how exactly is he earning his salary?

Mind you, saying that Anthony should be the one with the basketball in his hands isn't the same as saying he needs to be the one taking the shot. And while it may be true that Anthony rarely passes the ball with the game on the line, you'd probably still rather see the Knicks lose off of an Anthony miss than an Afflalo miss.

As the Knicks lick their wounds and recover from Friday night's 90-84 loss to the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers, Afflalo-one of the finer shooting guards in the NBA-will continue to emerge as a vital cog around here.

He just doesn't need to be isolated against a Cavaliers defense that knows how to rotate, help and recover.

Late-game play calling is what separates the best coaches from those who end up posting resumes on And if the first 10 games of the season are any indication of what Fisher's long-term job security is in New York City, let's just say he better start listing his references.

Point blank: the second-year head coach needs to do better in that regard.

Credit him, though, for admitting it.

"I have to do a better job of putting guys in a better position to be successful out there… They'e doing what we ask them to do," he said, absolving his team of any blame after scoring just six points over the game's final six minutes.

"It is my job to make the situation better from the bench."

If that's the case, thus far, he hasn't done very well.


Although I don't sit on an NBA bench, I have had a pretty good view of things, and what has haunted an entire generation of NBA superstars and coaches is the asinine belief that simply putting the basketball in the hands of your best player is a recipe for sustained success. That worked for Michael Jordan. At times, it worked for Kobe Bryant, and yes, Anthony. But lately? Not so much.

Isolating Anthony, mind you, is what partially led to Mike Woodson being shown the door. And depending on Anthony to do everything by himself hasn't exactly been a winning proposition. The latest example of that fact occurred this past Wednesday night in Charlotte, when, for some inexplicable reason, with the game tied, Anthony felt the need to chuck a three-point shot that found the side of the backboard.

Two words to describe that? Not ideal.

"I think the offense got a little out of sync down the stretch," Afflalo said afterward. "We didn't get quality looks."

That was certainly evident when, with the Knicks up by four points with 3:15 remaining in the game, Anthony was forced into a turnaround 26-footer as the shot clock was winding down.

Invariably, when the game is on the line, defenses tighten, players tense up, and head coaches make all

the difference in the world. In that regard, Fisher is still learning.

So as Fisher's team seemingly squandered another winnable game, we rightfully call out the head coach for what seemed like poor game management and play calling in the game's most important moments.

Now, take a deep breath and a step back.

Realize that we criticize Fisher for his team squandering winnable games, whereas last season, "winnable" games were few and far between.

Through 10 games, losses aside, these Knicks have been everything that last year's team wasn't. It's so obvious that everyone sees it, but nobody talks about it.

The 2014-15 Knicks rolled over and died at the moment the opposition built up a head of steam, while this year's team-at least so far-keeps rolling.

Jose Calderon, if nothing else, has proven to be mentally tough, as many-especially me-called for his benching. Lance Thomas, all by his lonesome, it seemed, won Tuesday night's game in Toronto. Kristaps Porzingis nearly did exactly that one night later. Langston Galloway is amongst the league's leading three-point shooters and has proven to be an NBA player and Lou Amundson, on Friday night, gave Knicks fans a stark reminder that you don't need to convert a field goal for your fingerprints to end up all over a game.

You can destroy someone when they deserve it, so long as you credit them when it's warranted. Fisher, as a second-year head coach, is still proving to be a bit wet behind the ears, but he deserves an immense amount of credit for fielding a team that has been both easy to fall in love with and, considering the strength of schedule, a relative pleasant surprise.

Through the first 42 minutes of Friday night's loss to the Cavaliers, it was hard to decipher which team was the defending Eastern Conference champion, and that says a lot.

"There's no question that these guys are definitely committed to each other, they're doing the things we're asking them to do," Fisher said on Friday night.

"You have a lot of new guys that are continuing to form together as a group. I do think the grit is there. There's a brand of basketball this team is capable of playing and they're showing those characteristics…We're learning a lot as we go," he said.

And above all, after 10 games, more than the tough losses-that is what should be taken away.

Somewhere in there, the 2015-16 Knicks are a good basketball team. And so long as Fisher himself continues to learn as he goes, the Knicks that we have seen over the season's first 10 games might actually be playing for something come the All-Star break.

"There are no moral victories in being 4-6," Fisher said. "Hopefully, the next 10, we can be better."

Let's give Fisher the benefit of the doubt and assume that he includes himself in the "we." Because, believe it or not, with the right coaching, this team may have a shot at overachieving.

Knicks drop second straight to LeBron, Cavs
Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks couldn't stop LeBron James' Cavaliers on Friday night. (AP)

NEW YORK (AP) - LeBron James scored 31 points, Mo Williams made a tiebreaking jumper with 41 seconds left and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the New York Knicks 90-84 on Friday night for their eighth straight victory.

Cleveland remained unbeaten since dropping its opener at Chicago and matched its best start through nine games at 8-1.

Williams scored Cleveland's final six points and finished with 20.

Carmelo Anthony scored 26 for the Knicks, but 22 came in the first half and his only field goal in the second half was a follow dunk as James kept his friend in check when it mattered.

Arron Afflalo had 14 points for the Knicks.

Just as in their first meeting this season, when the Cavaliers rallied for a 96-86 victory in Cleveland on Nov. 4, the Knicks built an early lead that the Cavs chipped away at. The Cavs couldn't pull away this time, but made enough plays at the finish and relied on a solid defensive effort that held the Knicks to 12 points in the final 12 minutes.

James scored six straight to give Cleveland an 84-82 lead, but Afflalo quickly tied it on a turnaround jumper with 59 seconds left. Williams then nailed a jumper, and after Afflalo missed on the other end, Williams finished it off with four free throws.


Cavaliers: The Cavaliers also started 8-1 during the 1976-77 season. … Former Knicks guardJ.R. Smith made consecutive 3-pointers to open the game, but then had only one more basket. … Cleveland opened a three-game road trip

Knicks: There was a moment of silence before the game for former Knicks draft pick Michael Wright and longtime NBA executive Gordon "Scotty" Stirling, who both died this week, along with the victims of the attacks in Paris.


The crowd included tennis player Carolina Wozniacki, New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard and Knicks Hall of Famer Willis Reed, who posed for a picture with James and Anthony before the game.


As the Cavaliers prepared for their morning shootaround, a worker removed DraftKings signage from the court, believing it was a national TV game - the NBA has a deal with rival daily fantasy site FanDuel. However, the game was being locally televised, so the signage was put back.


Cavaliers: Visit Milwaukee on Saturday night.

Knicks: Host New Orleans on Sunday.

Tonight's Game: Cavaliers at Knicks

The Knicks play host to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET.

According to STATS…

  • The Cavaliers defeated the Knicks 96-86 in Cleveland on November 4. It was a one-point contest entering the fourth quarter, but the Cavaliers outscored New York 26-17 over the final 12:00. Cleveland has won its last three road games against the Knicks after dropping its previous five.
  • After losing its 2015-16 season opener, the Cavaliers have now won their last seven games; that is their longest winning streak since taking 12 in a row, January 15-February 5, 2015.
  • New York led by 10 points at the end of the third quarter of its 95-93 loss to Charlotte on Wednesday. It was the first time the Knicks lost a game when leading by 10+ points entering the fourth quarter since April 3, 2012, when they lost at Indiana despite leading by 15 points at the end of the third quarter.
  • LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have split their 24 regular-season meetings; James has averaged 25.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game in these 24 contests, compared to Anthony's 23.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg and 3.0 apg.
  • Kevin Love has pulled down at least eight rebounds in all eight of his games so far in 2015-16. That is the longest such streak to begin a season by any Cavaliers' player since Carlos Boozer had 8+ boards in each of his first 10 games of the 2003-04 season.
  • Kristaps Porzingis scored 10 points and pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds in Wednesday's loss to Charlotte. It was his fourth double-double of 2015-16, which is second most among all rookies this season (Karl-Anthony Towns, Min, 6), and already the most by any rookie on the Knicks since Landry Fields (11) in 2010-11.
Lebron, Cavaliers visit New York on Friday night
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 108-102. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) (Ron Schwane/AP)

(AP) - LeBron James turned in a magnificent fourth quarter to help rally the Cleveland Cavaliers their last time out.

The New York Knicks were already victimized by a spectacular final period from the superstar last week.

The Knicks get a chance for revenge Friday night at home when they meet a Cavaliers team seeking its best start in 39 years.

James scored 17 of his 31 points in the fourth Tuesday as Cleveland (7-1) erased a nine-point deficit with just over seven minutes left for a 118-114 home victory over Utah. His point total matched a season high and he added eight assists.

"Bron is the greatest player in the game," coach David Blatt said. "I don't think there's anyone with a higher basketball IQ or a better understanding of the moment."

James has exhibited increased aggressiveness with 26 foul shots in the last two games. He never shot more than eight in his first six games.

The Cavaliers, winners of seven straight, are seeking their first 8-1 start since 1976-77.

They begin a three-game trip against a Knicks team they defeated 96-86 at home Nov. 4 after coming back from 15 points down. That contest featured a fourth quarter in which Cleveland held a 26-17 scoring edge, with James scoring 11 points in the final 7:13.

Carmelo Anthony made 1 of 5 shots for two points in the fourth that night. He is shooting 31.7 percent in the final period compared to 51.2 for James.

New York (4-5) fell 95-93 at Charlotte on Wednesday, with Anthony's baseline jumper from the left wing hitting the side of the backboard as the shot clock expired with 3.7 seconds left with the score tied. The Knicks were outscored 26-14 in a fourth quarter in which they shot 27.3 percent.

"I didn't deliver," Anthony said. "I had in my mind I was going to deliver. Everything felt good going into it."

Rookie Kristaps Porzingis drilled a 3-pointer that set off a celebration before it was ruled to have gone in after the buzzer as New York missed a chance at a three-game win streak. Porzingis had 10 points and 15 boards for his fourth double-double.

These teams each got a key player back this week.

Cavs guard J.R. Smith returned Tuesday after missing three games with a bruised right knee with seven points in 22 minutes. Smith will return to New York for the second time since the Knicks traded him to Cleveland on Jan. 6.

"The biggest thing is wind, trying to get your wind back," Smith said. "There's no shape like game shape. I think that's the biggest thing. Other than that, everything should be like riding a bike."

Arron Afflalo started in his Knicks debut Wednesday with 12 points in 28 minutes after being out with hamstring issues.

"I'm very, very excited to get my first game in the Garden," Afflalo said. "I think that will provide me with even more energy, the entire team for that matter, so I'm just extremely excited."

The Knicks will be wary of Mo Williams, who had a season-high 29 points Tuesday on 8-of-9 shooting and scored 22 against New York last week. Kevin Love has turned in consecutive 22-point efforts but had a season-low 11 versus the Knicks.

Observations from the Knicks' loss to the Hornets

The Knicks suffered a heartbreaker of a loss Wednesday night in Charlotte, but it wasn't as though they had played perfectly up until the buzzer sounded anyway. The game didn't merely come down to Kristaps Porzingis' buzzer-beating three-pointer getting waved off, as demoralizing as that may have been to the team's spirits.

This was a game of runs and respective up and downs, and although the Hornets shot under 42% from the field, they got hot (and saw a bit of luck come their way) late in the fourth, when it mattered most with the game on the line. 

The Knicks played relatively well. Things seemed to go right when they were looking to pound the ball inside. That said, while the intent to pass and respective ball movement was there, the spacing on the court was not. Players weren't moving well without the ball, and as such, New York wasn't able to create more opportunities from long range. Because of how bunched up players seemed to be, a 19% shooting percentage from downtown was the result. The Hornets also had an interesting defensive approach with Carmelo Anthony, as they more or less allowed him to shoot himself in the foot. Opting not to double-team him much, the star only made 12 of 25 field goals. The played a decent zone-defense, which closed out ways for the Knicks to find the open man.

Here are some other observations from the game:

  • The shot by Porzingis with .6 left in the game was waved off. It's clear he didn't get it off in time. But looking closely at Cody Zeller's key shot in the previous possession, it appeared as though more tenths of a second were taken off the clock that necessary. This obviously played into how much time the Knicks had next.
  • Arron Afflalo made his debut for the Knicks, and looked pretty good. New York could really use someone with his type of assertiveness on the court. He shot well from the perimeter and showed little hesitation crashing the boards and/or following up shots. Afflalo moved well.
  • A scoreless effort by Robin Lopez is inexcusable, but for the third game in a row, he made his presence felt on the defensive end. The big man needs to continue taking ownership of that defensive anchor leadership type role, because the players around him really benefit from the communication.
  • Credit should be given to Jose Calderon once again, who logged another positive showing. 13 points and a team-high 5 assists is nothing to sneeze at, but his plus.minus of +3 is even better.
  • One has to wonder if Calderon and Afflalo's respective emergences can be directed related to the likes of Langston Galloway and Jerian Grant receiving fewer minutes. The Knicks obviously have the option of going small if they want. Neither reserved looked good on Wednesday however; the team's bench was almost non-existent.
Tags: Keith Schlosser
Knicks fall to Hornets on last-second shot

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Cody Zeller made a layup off an inbounds play with 0.6 seconds left to lift the Charlotte Hornets to a 95-93 victory over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.

Kristaps Porzingis hit what appeared to be a winning 3-pointer from 29 feet on the ensuing inbounds play, but officials huddled and ruled that he didn't get the shot off in time.

Nicolas Batum led the Hornets with a season-high 24 points andJeremy Lin chipped in with 17 as Charlotte reached .500 for the first time.

Carmelo Anthony had 29 points, and Aaron Afflalo had 12 points in his regular season debut for the Knicks, who had their two-game winning streak snapped. Afflalo missed the first eight games with hamstring issues, but started and played 28 minutes.

Porzingis had 10 points and 15 rebounds.

The winning shot was a big bit of redemption for Zeller, who missed two free throws with 28 seconds remaining that could have given the Hornets a two-point lead. Zeller finished with 12 points.

Charlotte's top players, Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker, combined to shoot 4 of 21 from the field and didn't play most of the fourth quarter.

The Knicks had 17 turnovers.

The Knicks led 49-47 at the half before Anthony began to heat up. He scored 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field in the third quarter to help the Knicks open a double-digit lead.

But Charlotte's Jeremy duo - Lamb and Lin - helped even the score at 82 with 8:14 left in the game. Lamb, who is 18 of 26 from the field the last three games, scored 14 points.

It went back-and-forth from there.

Lin gave the Hornets the lead at 93-91 with 1:27 left when he hit a leaning jump shot to beat the shot clock.

Afflalo evened the game on a 16-foot pull-up jumper.

After both teams missed jumpers, Lance Thomas fouled Zeller, but he missed both free throws with 28 seconds left.

The Knicks got the ball to Anthony, but his baseline jumper from the left wing hit the side of the backboard and the shot clock expired with 3.7 seconds left.

The Hornets tried to inbound the ball, but it hit off a Knicks player and went out of bounds under the Charlotte basket with 2.2 seconds left.


Knicks: New York outrebounded Charlotte 52-33. … The Knicks attempted only two free throws in the first half.

Hornets: Walker missed all six shot attempts in the first half.


Knicks: Host Cleveland on Friday night.

Hornets: Visit Chicago on Friday night.

Tonight's Game: Knicks at Hornets

The Knicks are in Charlotte on Wednesday night to take on the Hornets at 7 p.m.

  • The Hornets won three of the four matchups between these clubs last season, however, three of those meetings were decided by five points or fewer. New York has dropped three straight and four of its last five road games against Charlotte.
  • After opening the season 2-4, the Knicks have now won each of their last two contests. New York will be looking to win three consecutive games for the first time since January 19-23 - its longest winning streak of the entire 2014-15 campaign.
  • The Hornets have won three of their last four games, averaging 109.0 points in those contests. Charlotte had averaged just 93.3 points in its first three contests to open the season (all losses).
  • Carmelo Anthony, who has had at least 24 points in each of his last two games overall, has had at least 20 in eight consecutive games against Charlotte and is averaging 40.7 points in his last three meetings with them.
  • After scoring a season-high 27 points against San Antonio on Saturday, Kemba Walker was held to a season-low 10 points against Minnesota on Tuesday. Walker is averaging 18.9 points in 12 career games against Philadelphia - the third-highest scoring average in his career versus any foe (minimum 10 games).
  • New York's bench is averaging 45.9 points this season, the second-highest mark among Eastern Conference clubs, while Charlotte's bench is averaging 42.4 - the third-highest mark in the East.
Knicks can match longest winning streak from last season with Wednesday win
Derek Fisher surveys the court in the Knicks' game against the Hornets. (AP)

(AP) - The New York Knicks have an opportunity to match their longest winning streak from last season in their first nine games, but the Charlotte Hornets are also showing some aptitude lately.

That winning streak last season also came to an end in Charlotte, where the Knicks will be Wednesday night with both teams trying to win a back-to-back set.

New York (4-4) won 111-109 in Toronto on Tuesday, two nights after beating the Los Angeles Lakers at home, and can match a three-game streak from Jan. 19-23.

Carmelo Anthony had 25 points, and while he's still searching for his shot to some extent, he's at least averaging 24.5 points and hitting 41.9 percent in the consecutive wins after being at 17.7 and 31.4 on the preceding three-game losing streak.

The Knicks improved to 3-1 on the road a season after finishing 7-34 and being outscored by 10.6 points per game in opponents' arenas.

While they've been strong defending the 3 over the last six games (27.5 percent), they countered on the other side by hitting 11 for 23 from 3-point range against the Raptors with Lance Thomas going 3 for 3. The reserve forward had a season-high 17 points and is shooting 58.5 percent for the season after finishing last season at 41.2.

"He's another guy who adds value to what we are and he helped us win this game tonight," coach Derek Fisher said.

It's also helped that the Knicks have taken care of the ball with 19 total turnovers in the consecutive wins after averaging 16.2 over the previous five contests, but there's still plenty of room for improvement. They were outscored 60-34 in the paint and allowed Toronto to get to the line 39 times.

"We were fortunate to get out with the win giving up 60 points in the paint and fouling as much as we did," Fisher said. "Those are areas that we're really trying to improve in a major way."

New York's only three-game run last season ended with a 76-71 loss in Charlotte on Jan. 24 as the Hornets won the last three meetings of the four-game season series.

The Hornets (3-4) won for the third time in four games Tuesday, defeating Minnesota 104-95 to complete a three-game road trip. They've come around offensively, averaging 109.0 points and shooting 49.2 percent in the last four games after posting marks of 93.3 and 39.1 on their season-opening three-game losing streak.

The bench has accounted for 48.3 points per game over the last four, with Jeremy Lin scoring a team-high 19 against the Timberwolves and fellow reserve Jeremy Lamb adding 18. Lamb is averaging 14.5 and shooting 66.7 percent in the last four games.

"I think if we're going to be really good, then we're going to have good bench play," coach Steve Clifford said. "I mean, I think that our starters are good, but to be a really good team our bench is going to have to be like they were tonight."

That might not be quite as necessary if Kemba Walker can recover from a 4-for-12 effort against Minnesota. The point guard is averaging 21.9 points in his last seven games against New York.

Hornets small forward P.J. Hairston left Tuesday's game with a migraine and did not return.

Knicks guard Arron Afflalo (left hamstring) remained out, though is expected to make his season debut soon.

Knicks almost landed Jarnell Stokes in the offseason
(Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports)

The Knicks were reportedly close to trading for Jarnell Stokes from Memphis in the offseason, according to The Commercial Appeal (Nov. 10).

"The Griz were on the verge of trading Stokes to the New York Knicks to open up a roster spot before the start of the regular season. But that deal fell apart," The Commercial Appeal reported on Tuesday.

Stokes was traded from Memphis to Miami this week.

It was not reported who the Knicks were willing to give up in the trade.

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

Stokes is a wild card. Somewhat of a head case, he was up and down between the Grizzlies and D-League affiliated Iowa Energy, and even served out a suspension for fighting one of his teammates on the bench last season.

Sometimes employing a player with that type of toughness (should it spill over onto the defensive end of the floor) can benefit a team, however. It helps if he can channel it in the right direction. Stokes is a decent rebounder and plays with physicality on that end of the floor. Offensively, he's somewhat of a stretch four with a decent mid-range jumper.

Either way, he's a risk. It's one thing if dealing for him happens to be a low-risk scenario with the acquiring team not giving up much in return. Obviously if New York opted not to bite, they believed the asking price to be too rich. As it is, the likes of Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle O'Quinn, and Lance Thomas have all exceeded expectations. The likes of Robin Lopez, Kevin Seraphin, and Lou Amundson all also have the opportunity to continue contributing to the team's frontline, so perhaps there wasn't a pressing need for Stokes.

Tags: Keith Schlosser
Observations from the Knicks' win over the Raptors
New York Knicks forward Lance Thomas (42) comes up with a rebound in the fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Knicks beat the Raptors 111-109. (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

The Knicks recaptured a .500 record with another win on the road, this time defeating the Raptors in Toronto on Tuesday night. Neither team played its best game of the season by any means, but for the Knicks, there is still something to be said about matching up with the reigning Atlantic Division champions.

Kyle Lowry flirted with a triple-double and DeMar DeRozen led Toronto with 29 points, but it was clear that he and his team's supporting cast were forced to fight for quality shots. The Knicks made them work. New York's frontline wasn't dominant, but the likes of Robin Lopez and Kristaps Porzingis both proved to be pesky and pestering enough on the defensive end, all the while also crashing the glass to bother the Raptors. Each one played a real physical game, and reserves like Lance Thomas and Kyle O'Quinn (and others) followed their example.

Carmelo Anthony heated up and went on a little run to help his team pull ahead in the first half. Still, he, like many others, wavered as the game went on. This provided the Raptors with a small window of opportunity, and they smashed right through it. A few hesitations and careless mistakes later, and the game was closer than one would have thought. But the Knicks pulled through after benefitting from clutch plays by Thomas, Langston Galloway, and others. Here's a look at some other observations from the game.

  • Thomas, as mentioned, was huge. Scoring a season-high 17 points, he found some luck shooting from the perimeter, and was especially active under the basket. His free-throws were clutch. Defensively, the smart plays from Thomas were seemingly infectious.
  • Galloway has arguably been the Knicks' most consistent performer all season long. He makes his teammates better, spreads the floor, and plays with plenty of confidence. He's not one to shy away from challenges or big moments on either end of the floor, which is making him a must-have on the court player for New York during crunch-time.
  • Despite fouling out, this was another very promising performance by Lopez. He was very active on the defensive end, even swatting four blocked shots. He understood how to use his body and could be found communicating with his teammates throughout.
  • This was an undoubtedly balanced effort, with players picking up their teammates during different points of the game. A variety of Knicks were able to shine. Anthony was especially great in the first half, but when he cooled off later on, other players noticeably stepped up. This type of effort is essential if the Knicks want to compete at a high level and sustain an attack for an entire 48 minutes per game.
  • It was another rough night for Kristaps Porzingis shooting from the field. He is overzealous and his shot-selection needs refinement. Porzingis will benefit from seeking out his teammates around the perimeter. Still, his confidence isn't wavering just yet. That's a very good thing, because one has to hope the shots will fall sooner than later if he's smart about them. It's always important for his respective aggression and assertiveness on the other end of the floor that he isn't doubting his own abilities. Porzingis has been a pleasant surprise defensively.
Tags: Keith Schlosser
Knicks edge Raptors, 111-109

(AP) Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points and Lance Thomas added 17 off the bench as the New York Knicks beat Toronto 111-109 on Tuesday night to hand the Raptors their first home loss of the season.

DeMar DeRozan had a season-high 29 points for Toronto, while Kyle Lowry had 23 points and nine rebounds.

The victory was New York's third on the road this season after winning just seven times away from Madison Square Garden last year.

The Raptors gave up their highest point total of the season and it was just the second time in eight games that Toronto has given up 100 or more points.

The Knicks were 11 for 23 (48 percent) from 3-point range, including 3 for 3 by Thomas, while the Raptors could only connect on 23.5 percent.

In a game that featured 13 lead changes, the Knicks led by 13 points less than a minute into the third quarter. The Raptors wiped that out by the end of the period before Cleanthony Early banked in a 30-footer at the buzzer to send the teams to the fourth tied at 85.

The Knicks took the lead for good with 8:43 remaining on a 3-pointer from Langston Galloway and hung on down the stretch.

Anthony had just two points in the first quarter, then scored 17 in the second to give the Knicks a 60-52 lead at the half. The 17 points in a quarter and 19 in a half were the most the Raptors have allowed an opponent so far this season, while the 60 points were the most Toronto has given up in a single half.

DeRozan wasted no time putting a bad shooting performance in Sunday's 96-76 loss in Miami behind him. He went 5 for 8 for 10 points in the first quarter, matching the five baskets he registered on Sunday, to keep the Raptors close against the fast-starting Knicks.


Knicks: G Arron Afflalo (left hamstring) remained out, though is expected to make his season debut soon.

Raptors: DeRozan reached the 15-point mark for the eighth straight game to start the season, the first Raptor since Chris Bosh in 2009-10 to accomplish the feat. . Toronto is 2-1 at home and will not play consecutive home games until Dec. 3-5, the latest in a season that the team has had to wait to play back-to-back games in front of its own fans. . F DeMarre Carroll (right heel) missed his second straight game and F Terrence Ross (left thumb) was also unavailable.


Knicks: Visit Charlotte on Wednesday.

Raptors: Visit Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Tonight's Game: Knicks at Raptors

The Knicks are in Toronto on Tuesday to play the Raptors at 7:30 p.m. ET.

  • Toronto won three of its four meetings with the Knicks in 2014-15 and is 23-9 in its last 32 home games against them. New York hasn't won a season series from the Raptors since sweeping them back in the 2010-11 campaign.
  • The Knicks saw their three game losing streak come to an end in a 99-95 victory over the Lakers on Sunday. After averaging 113.3 points in its first three games of the season, New York has failed to hit the century mark in any of its last four contests - averaging just 90.3 points in those games.
  • The Raptors, which will be looking to open 3-0 at home for the second consecutive season, are averaging just 81.5 points during their current two game slide.
  • DeMar DeRozan was held to 16 points against Miami on Sunday after scoring at least 20 in each of his previous three contests. DeRozan is averaging 19.0 points in his career against the Knicks - the third-highest scoring average in his career against any foe.
  • Carmelo Anthony has scored at least 28 points in six consecutive games against the Raptors - his longest active scoring streak versus any opponent.
    Kyle Lowry has scored over 20 points in each of his last five games against the Knicks - the longest such scoring streak in his career versus any opponent.
Knicks battle division leading Toronto on Tuesday night

(AP) - The Toronto Raptors were ice cold to end their four-game road trip and hope a return home helps them get back on track offensively.

The New York Knicks may pose a greater defensive challenge than initially anticipated in Monday night's matchup.

Toronto (5-2) lost 96-76 to Miami on Sunday, its second consecutive defeat. The Raptors were held to 29 second-half points, their fewest since scoring 28 in a 74-72 loss at Indiana on Nov. 13, 2012.

They averaged 106.0 points and shot 39.0 percent from 3-point range in their first five games before struggling in Friday's 92-87 defeat at Orlando, shooting a season-worst 34.9 percent from the floor.

Kyle Lowry was 4 for 16 against the Heat and has gone 15 for 46 (32.6 percent) over his last three games. He shot 47.2 percent in his first four. DeMar DeRozan also shot poorly Sunday, going 5 for 14.

"I didn't get too excited when we were 5-0 and I'm not getting down now that we've had a few stinkers," coach Dwane Casey told the team's official website.

It's uncertain if DeMarre Carroll will play after sitting out Sunday to rest his sore right heel. He's shot 34.2 percent through six games, a season after posting a career-best 48.7 mark with Atlanta. James Johnson had seven points and seven rebounds while starting in his place at Miami.

"(The injury) has affected his play, his jump shot and his defensive movement," Casey said of Carroll. "Getting him rest right now is the most important thing."

The Knicks (3-4) ended a three-game slide with a 99-95 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, winning despite shooting 39.3 percent. Carmelo Anthony had 24 points but went 8 of 20 as his shooting woes continued. His 37.1 field-goal percentage would be by far the lowest of his career.

Neither of the club's top two scorers have been particularly efficient, as rookie Kristaps Porzingis (12.3 ppg) is hitting 39.5 percent and was 3 for 10 against the Lakers.

"Offensively our execution is still really an area where we have to improve a lot, which we will over time," said coach Derek Fisher, who was ejected in the third quarter for arguing Porzingis' foul on a Kobe Bryant 3-point attempt.

New York, though, has limited its last three opponents to 40.3 percent shooting after yielding 47.2 in the previous three contests.

The Knicks have dropped five of seven in Toronto, where the Raptors are looking to improve to 3-0.

Lowry has averaged 24.4 points and 52.6 percent from the floor in his last five meetings with New York, though DeRozan has made just 36.6 percent in his past five.

Anthony has averaged 31.5 points in his last six games against Toronto.

Arron Afflalo is out tonight against Toronto

New York Knicks shooting guard Arron Afflalo will not play on Tuesday night against Toronto (Knicks, Nov. 10).

Afflalo, who signed a two-year deal with the Knicks this offseason, suffered a hamstring injury in training camp that has prevented him from appearing in a game so far this season.

Head coach Derek Fisher said that Affalo is probable for Wednesday's game in Charlotte.

Tags: Aaron Afflalo
Knicks taking right approach easing Arron Afflalo back in

Some NBA teams have been known to rush players coming off of serious injuries back. This may help in the short-term, but such a plan fizzles out rather quickly, if and when said player suffers another setback.

Luckily, the Knicks aren't doing this when it comes to Arron Afflalo. Despite positive showings from both Jose Calderon and Sasha Vujacic in Sunday's win over the Lakers, there's no doubt the duo has underwhelmed and under performed at times this season. Still, head coach Derek Fisher has been hesitant to change things up, mainly because in turn, that would also disrupt some of the really great momentum the likes of Langston Galloway and Jerian Grant have created off the bench.

When Afflalo returns, he'll obviously be a big upgrade over Vujacic. What's more, Calderon could certainly improve playing off a more talented and potent player in the backcourt as well. As important as it is to have Afflalo in the lineup, hamstring injuries can be especially difficult for a player to come back from. There are almost always nagging effects. The pain can linger on for a prolonged period of time. If a player like Afflalo is hitting the hardwood with full gusto too early, he could certainly suffer a setback that leaves negative effects for both him and the Knicks in the long run.

There's also a decent chance that when Afflalo does return (a more likely date is Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets), he won't particularly be 100%. He's likely to be inching his way back for quite a while. That's alright, as long as the Knicks choose not to depend upon him too heavily early on.

If the starting backcourt wasn't so much of an issue as it is, it would probably be worthwhile to bring Afflalo in off the bench to start things off; perhaps play him a modified 20-24 minutes per game in a low pressure circumstances while he gets his legs back. While such a minutes plan could certainly still work, the Knicks desperately need new blood in the starting lineup.

The team is going to benefit, not only from Afflalo's defensive instincts, but even more so his ability to score the basketball. With the likes of Kristaps Porzingis and Langston Galloway starting to shine alongside Carmelo Anthony, the offense is improving bit by bit. Still, it goes without saying that the Knicks need assertive players. With all this talk about being unselfish and moving the ball in the triangle offense, some players have seemingly forgotten how to look for their own offense or finally take the ball to the hole when the time is right.

New York desperately needs a player they can rely on consistently as Anthony's right hand man. Varied contributions on the offensive end are good too, but it's important to know someone is always ready to assume such a role as well.

Just having Afflalo in the lineup (as a starter, it would seem) is going to be an added bonus for the Knicks. Mixing things up and inserting him alongside the team's other quality starters may add some versatility and make things easier for those around him. Fresh blood is good.

That said, the Knicks have been smart about inching the shooting guard back slowly but surely, and that approach shouldn't be disregarded once he actually hits the court.

Tags: Aaron Afflalo , Keith Schlosser
GEICO SportsNite: Porzingis 00:01:05
Kristaps Porzingis, Derek Fisher and Carmelo Anthony discuss Porzingis' toughness and effort on the court in every game.

Kristaps Porzingis, Derek Fisher and Carmelo Anthony discuss Porzingis' toughness and effort on the court in every game.

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis
Porzingis earns praise from Magic, Kobe; already potential ROY
(Kathy Kmonicek)

Kristaps Porzingis is only seven games into his NBA career, yet the 7-foot-3 Latvian has already earned praise from Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant and is being touted as an early NBA Rookie of the Year Candidate by

KP is averaging close to a double-double at 12.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Combining his towering height with tremendous athleticism and aggressiveness, Porzingis has already posted three double-doubles, including Sunday's 12-point, 10-rebound outing in a 99-95 win over Kobe and the Lakers that Johnson watched from a courtside seat at Madison Square Garden.

"What I like is I'm having some consistency in my game," Porzingis said Monday in advance of Tuesday's game in Toronto. "I'm having 10 points, 10 rebounds, 8 rebounds, I'm kind of bringing the same numbers to the team every game. I wanna keep that, I wanna raise that. Obviously, I'm going to have bad games, good games, but the thing that I always want to bring is the energy and the intensity on the floor."

On Sunday, Porzingis, the No. 4 pick in the draft, clearly outplayed Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell, the No. 2 pick. Afterward, both Bryant and Johnson praised the big man, with Magic Tweeting that Knicks President Phil Jackson should be applauded for landing "the steal of the draft."

"[When] a legend like him approves and sees potential in me and says that, that's huge and shows me that I gotta keep working hard to prove to everybody that I can really play and I can have a long successful career in the NBA," he said.

Bryant, playing in perhaps his last game at the Garden, also pulled Porzingis aside to offer support.

"After the game, Kobe said a few words to me," he said. "He said, 'Keep working young fella. You have a bright future.' That's huge hearing that from Kobe. Kobe was my idol growing up and hearing those words from him makes you want to work hard to get to that level."

Asked if he gave Kobe any advice, Porzingis joked, "What kind of advice can I give him? He knows everything already."

The Knicks, of course, say they aren't surprised at all by what Porzingis has shown. There were doubters when they picked him at No. 4, and of course Porzingis was booed on draft night at Barclays Center, but took it in stride, saying he had to turn the boos into cheers via his play.

"We felt comfortable, we felt confident when we picked him," Anthony said. "Obviously, our front office saw something in him that everybody else didn't see so we rolling with it."

Anthony said he and his teammates saw in training camp what others didn't see until the season began.

"I don't want to call him a freak of nature, but he's 7-3," Anthony said of Porzingis. "He's a guy that can shoot the ball, he's long, so at this point to get 10 rebounds is kind of easy for him. He's there, he's getting offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, he's defending. He's taking the shots that he's supposed to take and he'll get a better feel for the game as the season goes along."

Knicks coach Derek Fisher praised Porzingis' aggressiveness in addition to his athleticism.

"He hasn't quite learned how to play on the post just yet," Fisher said. "He can obviously shoot the basketball well but most of his offense is coming from his activity, offensive rebounds, running the floor well, and that's fine for now. You don't have to be a guy that the offense runs through in order to be effective."

He added: "I think you have to give our management and our scouting department a lot of credit for seeing the other parts of his game, the toughness, the willingness to throw his body in the paint that a lot of people didn't see. A lot of people just saw the shooting and were kind of fascinated by that but we saw the activity on the defensive end and those are all good things."

Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider for You can follow him on Twitter.

Tags: Adam Zagoria
Fisher hopeful Afflalo will debut on road trip

Knicks coach Derek Fisher is hopeful shooting guard Arron Afflalo will make his debut during the team's road trip this week.

"Not necessarily expect, but definitely hopeful," Fisher said Monday. "He's looking good, he's been working really hard. Chances [Tuesday] night [at Toronto] are probably a little slimmer [than Wednesday in Charlotte]. We just have to see how he reacts to today. It was pretty intense work, and then tomorrow as well."

Afflalo, who has a strained hamstring, said Friday he expected to play on this road trip.

"I will say I'll be out there within the week for sure," he said. "I think I can confidently say that based on our discussions."

When he does return, he probably won't be thrust into back-to-back situations right away.

"That would be preferable, not to put any guy in a situation where they're returning from injury and go right into a back-to-back situation," Fisher said. "As well as having not too much of any limitations as far as limits and conditioning, so we're hopeful that it's soon. He's doing everything that he can do. Hamstrings are really tricky and we want this guy to be back for the long haul."

Carmelo Anthony said he's hoping to get his former Denver Nuggets running buddy back soon.

"I don't really know exactly when he's planning on coming back, but when he comes back we'll welcome him with open arms," Anthony said.

Asked what differences he sees now in Afflalo, Anthony said, "[He's] older, mature, better player from the aspect of just learning the game a lot more. When he was in Denver he was much younger and I think now he's had the opportunity in Orlando to have the ball in his hands more and learn to take over games in different situations. So from that experience I look forward to being alongside him."

Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider for You can follow him on Twitter.

Jimmer Fredette signs with Pelicans under hardship exception
(Reinhold Matay)

Jimmer Fredette has signed with the New Orleans Pelicans under the league's hardship clause, according to reporter Shams Charania (Nov. 9).

Fredette was the second-overall pick, by the Westchester Knicks, in the D-League draft.

A hardship exception allows an NBA team to add a 16th player to their roster. The league must approve all exceptions.

Before signing with the Pelicans, Fredette said he hoped to become the 15th player on the Knicks roster after joining their D-League team.

"With them having 14 guys on the roster, you never know what's going to happen," Fredette, drafted Saturday by the Westchester Knicks D-League outfit, said Monday on a conference call. "But everything comes into play when you're trying to figure out the best situation to go to. I'm excited to be here. I'm not too far from where I grew up so that's a big part of it and I think that's sort of a cool thing. You never know what's going to happen but I hope to impress and play well and then go from there."

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

Should players heal up and Fredette once again becomes the odd man out in New Orleans, he would rejoin the Westchester Knicks upon returning to the D-League.

Owning that high of a D-League draft pick is somewhat of a blessing and a curse. It allows a minor league club to snag a quality player, but they do so knowing full well it could only be a matter of time before he get called back up to the NBA.

If Westchester is hoping to have him back later in the season, it's likely a good thing that Fredette is joining New Orleans for the time being. This gig will satisfy his financial needs (albeit it, somewhat) and make opting for the D-League again (rather than jetting overseas) an even easier decision. In a way, getting called up this early on is a good thing as it relates to Westchester basketball. He'll likely be back.

Tags: Keith Schlosser
Former MSU PG Travis Trice playing for Westchester Knicks
(Michael Conroy/AP)

Travis Trice is trying to keep his situation in perspective.

The former Michigan State point guard was among five players cut by the Knicks in training camp and is now with their D-League franchise, the Westchester Knicks.

"You never want to go in doubting, you're always wishing for the best but it is what it is," the 6-foot-2 Trice (No. 20 in this picture) said last week at the team's media day. "I'm just going to take it as another opportunity. It could be worse, I know there's a lot of guys that would be fighting to be in this position right now so I'm just trying to take it day by day."

The Knicks still have an open roster spot and both Trice and former NBA lottery pick Jimmer Fredette - Trice's Westchester teammate - are aware of the situation. Jose Calderon, the Knicks starting point guard is 34, while the backup Jerian Grant is a rookie.

"Like I said, that's a spot I'm gunning for but I just want to get better as a player every day and try to improve," Trice said. "And just find a way to get into the NBA, no matter what team it's with so that's what I'm trying to do."

Trice averaged a team-best 15.3 points along with 5.1 assists and 3.2 rebounds last season when coach Tom Izzo's team reached the Final Four before losing to eventual national champion Duke in the national semifinals.

Westchester coach Mike Miller was impressed by Trice's performance with the Knicks during the preseason.

"I had a chance to watch him all through training camp and I saw him grow in that amount of time," Miller said. "He played in the Charlotte game and had some good minutes, made some really good passes, made some good plays, was very aggressive with his dribble. He set some guys up for shots, so I think it will translate.

"Certainly there is an adjustment period adjusting to the pro game and then adjusting to the D-League because there are a couple of different rules within the D-League, particularly for a point guard. But I think he'll do well. I think his experiences have prepared him and now he needs some playing time and playing with Jimmer, with DaJuan [Summers], with those guys, I think it will be great for him to continue to grow."

Meantime, Trice is keeping tabs on Sparty and believes they have a shot to contend for another national championship.

"I think they have a chance to go back and even get farther than we did last year," he said. "I feel like they're more talented than we were. You add a guy like Eron Harris, you get a guy back like Javon Bess who will be healthy this year, and the way Denzell [Valentine] finished last year, and the way our bigs were playing towards the end. I feel like they have a chance, they just gotta stick together."

Trice practiced with the Spartans over the summer and believes committed small forward Miles Bridges of Huntington (W.V.) Prep - part of coach Tom Izzo's blockbuster recruiting class - is better than anyone on the current team.

"I actually got to go back on their official visit, the Oregon weekend, and got to play open gym and hang out with those guys," Trice said. "It's great group and I feel like Michigan State is in good hands."

How good is the 6-foot-7 Bridges?

"I feel like he was the best player in the gym," Trice said.

Better than anyone currently on the team?

"Yeah, he was just that impressive," Trice said. "I feel like he is definitely a pro."

Photo by Albert Coqueran
White Plains Examiner

Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider for You can follow him on Twitter.

Tags: Adam Zagoria
Observations from the Knicks' win over the Lakers
(Kathy Willens)

In desperate need of their first win at home, the Knicks took on the Lakers during a Sunday matinee. With both teams struggling, attempting to find themselves, and rolling out younger lineups (albeit it, Los Angeles more so than New York), the game would assumedly get ugly at some point.

It wasn't a clean game or an easy one to watch, that's for sure. It wasn't pretty. Instead, the contest was one where both teams labored on, displaying grit, determination and an immense amount of physicality. While both teams shot under 40 percent from the field, the Knicks were lucky enough to grind it out and come out victorious when the final buzzer sounded. This was one of those games where, because of the type of effort getting the win required, one could see New York wanted it more. They were strong on the boards and kept their turnovers down, both huge factors in the win. Here's a look at a few more key observations from the game.

  • In what possibly could have been Kobe Bryant's last game at MSG, he put on quite a show. Despite a poor shooting night, Bryant pieced together a few key shots in the first half, and was looking as though he could not be deterred. The superstar is a rather persistent player, even in his older age. It's easy to see that he still gets star calls and the benefit of the doubt from officials throughout. Bryant played some of the most physical defense Carmelo Anthony has arguably seen in two seasons, and it showed. Anthony was visibly bothered. Metta World Peace contributed to that as well.
  • Both teams were hungry on the defensive end, and Bryant is not a very easy guard to shake off. Still, it's worth noting that the likes of Anthony (8-of-20 from the field) and Kristaps Porzingis (3-of-10) both need to have better shot selection. Neither of them are finding (and/or simply getting) the types of quality shots they need. This of course could be due to the respective defense, or teammates not setting them up accordingly. There are a number of possibilities there.
  • Shooting aside, Porzingis had a very good game. The big man boasted a team-high plus/minus of +18, and attacked the basket and earned himself trips to the free-throw line with ease. His instincts were sound, as Porzingis would act quickly to get shots up underneath the basket and draw fouls efficiently.
  • Robin Lopez and Jose Calderon both had their best games of the young season. Lopez fought off the likes of Julius Randle and Roy Hibbert down low to grab double-digit boards, and his teammates found him a few times in the pick & pop to create easier scoring opportunities. He finished with 14 points and 12 boards. Calderon's 14-point, five-rebound, and three-assist effort deserves to be praised, but not necessarily celebrated. It's clear he had a tremendously positive impact, but it's the type of game he should be logging on a nightly basis.
  • Langston Galloway is solidifying his role as a very dependable sixth man. He's confident and assertive in finding his offense, but even more importantly, especially clutch. The young gun can knock down big shots. His strong play is infectious, as evidenced by an impressive plus/minus of +17 after logging 14 points.
  • Derek Fisher's ejection showed the type of fire and emotion necessary from someone who is normally so laid back in his leadership approach from the sideline. A team benefits from that type of energy once and a while. It's also worth noting that the Knicks won the second half (and subsequently the game) under associate head coach Kurt Rambis.
Tags: Keith Schlosser
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