06302022

Carmelo snaps out of it but Knicks lose; J.R. misses winner




Troubled former Knicks guard Micheal Ray Richardson, the author of one of the most memorable quotes in team history, was seated courtside Wednesday night at the Garden.


His infamous words from 1981-82 — “The ship be sinking” — are becoming increasingly apropos again more than three decades later.


Even a team that came in with a record as poor as the Knicks’ proved to be too much to handle as Derek Fisher’s free-falling club couldn’t hold a fourth-quarter lead before J.R. Smith misfired at the buzzer, sealing its sixth straight loss, 97-95, to Orlando.


“Losing is tough,” a downcast Carmelo Anthony said. “I thought this was a game we could have went out there and got tonight, kind of get that monkey off our back, so this is a tough one to swallow. We have to bounce back from this.

J.R. Smith scores 19 points but bricks a potential game-winning 3-pointer as Knicks lose to Magic.Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
J.R. Smith scores 19 points but bricks a potential game-winning 3-pointer as Knicks lose to Magic.



“It is (hard to stay patient). I don’t want to keep saying the same thing. But we’ve got to stay with it.”


Anthony, who had shot just 34% during the previous five losses, scored 27 points on more effective 10-for-17 shooting, including a late three-pointer that gave the Knicks a chance to win on their final possession. But they couldn’t get the ball to Anthony, and Smith (19 points) clanked a 27-footer off the backboard as time expired.


“The last play we had multiple options, but once the ball came into J.R., he trusted himself, he made multiple shots tonight and he took the shot,” coach Derek Fisher said. “I have no problem what we got.”

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiRobert Sabo/New York Daily News
Knicks’ Iman Shumpert (r.) tries to get around Orlando’s Evan Fournier, who gets a game-high 28 points.



Fisher, the 18-year NBA guard, has had little problem putting his playing days behind him since transitioning directly into his new gig with Knicks, but the first-year coach did reveal earlier Wednesday that he likely would have sought to extend his career had team president Phil Jackson not come calling over the summer.


“I probably would still have, I guess, been playing if maybe not presented with this great opportunity to be here,” Fisher said. “I don’t think much about what I would have been doing at this point. I’m all-in here with this process.”


Still, Jackson had stressed before Monday’s loss to Atlanta that the Knicks and their fans need to remain patient during the team’s growing pains within the triangle offense — and that the organization might not know which players are “learners” in the system until Thanksgiving or into December. “I don’t know if it’s a fair assessment or not. He obviously knows a lot about this offense,” Fisher said. “I don’t have a date on when I would assume a guy should or shouldn’t have it.”


After starting a three-guard alignment with Anthony at the power forward spot in home-and-home losses to Atlanta, Fisher decided to go back to the lineup he used at the start of the season, with Anthony back at small forward and Quincy Acy at the No. 4 spot. The Knicks saw several of Fisher’s in-game decisions also come into play, especially in the fourth quarter.


The Knicks (2-7) enjoyed a rare strong third period to overcome a 10-point hole and they led, 83-78, on Pablo Prigioni’s three-pointer with 8:55 left in the game. Anthony sat for the first 4:30 of the fourth because of foul trouble (the 3-6 Magic enjoyed a 32-14 advantage in free-throw attempts) and he went back to the bench with his fifth foul with 5:41 left. Anthony reentered two minutes later with the Knicks down, 89-85, before Iman Shumpert’s reverse dunk drew them within two.


“Hindsight is 20-20, maybe I leave him in and he doesn’t foul out but, you know, I’ll take that one,” Fisher said.


Shumpert (10 points) fouled out with 2:25 to go and the Magic up five, and former Knick Channing Frye’s basket on a post-up against Tim Hardaway Jr. kept the lead at four with 61 ticks left. After Anthony’s three with 4.3 seconds left got the Knicks back within one, and Orlando’s Evan Fournier (28 points) missed one of two free throws, Smith collected Prigioni’s midcourt inbounds pass with 3.5 seconds on the clock and decided to fire instead of forcing the ball to Anthony in traffic on the right wing.


“That’s rhetorical,” Anthony said when asked if he wanted the ball in that situation. “I thought we ran the play that was designed. J.R., he had an open shot, or thought he had an open shot. That was that. I don’t think I’m going to get it every time regardless of what’s going on.” 




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