Knicks welcome a return home after rough West Coast trip
JAIME C. HARRIS | 1/9/2020, 6:10 p.m.
As expected, the Knicks’ six-day, four-game road trip against Western Conference opponents didn’t yield favorable results.
They went into Utah last night (Wednesday) to face the Jazz with a record of 10-27 having dropped the first three games. A 120-112 defeat to the Phoenix Suns to begin the arduous journey last Friday, followed by a closely contested 135-132 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday and a 117-87 beatdown from LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, had the Knicks rightfully looking forward to returning home.
They host the New Orleans Pelicans at Madison Square Garden tomorrow night and will be back at MSG on Sunday afternoon to play the Miami Heat. As they have been all season, the Knicks’ recent inconsistent performances have them taking one step forward then two steps backwards.
They were on their first three-game winning streak of the season before the road trip with wins over the Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards and Portland Trailblazers. But their momentum was stopped in Phoenix in a game the Knicks led by 10 at halftime and trailed by only two points—107-105—with 4:32 remaining. Since interim head coach Mike Miller took over for David Fizdale, who was fired on December 6, the Knicks were 6-9 before concluding their recent road trip last night in Utah.
Yesterday morning on the Golic and Wingo show on ESPN, Fizdale made his first extensive and substantive comments regarding being let go by the Knicks. He channeled his inner Hyman Roth, a character from the movie “The Godfather: Part II,” when he responded to a question regarding his dismissal.
“That’s the the business we’ve chosen,” said Fizdale. “Obviously they had to make a tough decision,” referring to Knicks owner James Dolan, team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry.
“I respect those guys greatly. I miss the hell out of them. All of the players, staff and guys like that. That’s our business. At the time we were 4-18…I have no ill feelings toward the situation…I obviously learned a ton from it and I was just really grateful to have that opportunity to be able to say I was the head coach of the New York Knicks.”
Fizdale said it was likely a combination of measurable and subjective factors that expedited his firing. He also opined he believes the Knicks are not far off from constructing a winning team.
“I think, especially when you’re talking about a rebuild with the Knicks, the toughest part about New York City and Madison Square Garden is the patience level,” Fizdale asserted. “It’s a team that’s struggled for a long time and I think the fans really want to get that thing going as soon as possible. It’s unique from that standpoint because there’s other places that you can take your time a little more and build it a little more slowly.
“But at Madison Square Garden,” he expounded, “it’s a tougher environment. And with the media market surrounding the team and all the scrutiny that comes with it, it could put a lot of pressure on the people in the building. But I really think they’re on the right track…It’s just a matter of time before it all comes together.”
In an observation that could be distressing and frustrating to Knicks fans, Fizdale concluded that the Dallas Mavericks, the team to which the Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis, their last All-Star player, as having the potential to be a championship contender in the very near future.