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Derek Fisher refuses to give in to pessimism

Knicks head coach Derek Fisher talks to the

Knicks head coach Derek Fisher talks to the media before practice at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 26, 2014. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

Derek Fisher doesn't do New Year's resolutions, but he continues to be resolute in the face of a dismal start to the Knicks' season and his coaching career.

There is no doubt Fisher is being tested, like the rest of the 5-29 Knicks. They ended 2014 on Wednesday with a 21-point loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles in the building Fisher and Phil Jackson used to call home. It was the Knicks' ninth consecutive loss and 19th in 20 games.

The best thing you can say about the Knicks in 2015 is they haven't lost a game yet. Of course, that could change Friday night when the Pistons visit the Garden.

The struggles have led to whispers that Fisher, who went right from playing to being a head coach, is in over his head. Yet he remains steadfast in his approach and belief in himself, the system and the idea that the Knicks will grow and develop.

"It's not really about me proving myself,'' Fisher said. "It's about this team and this organization redefining how we're going to be successful.

"Our fans have, I think, waited a long time from their perspective and how they feel about us. But this is a new beginning for us and we're going through our growing pains right now. The people we have involved with what we're trying to do, we have no doubt that we're going to eventually be successful, and we're going to keep working until we are.''

Jackson was hired as president to revitalize the Knicks, who have won one playoff series in the last 14 years. From the beginning, he and Fisher preached patience, but Jackson said he thought the Knicks would be a playoff team this season.

It's gone as wrong as it possibly could in a season in which the Knicks needed a lot to go right. The plan is to transform the team in the offseason with what likely will be a high lottery pick and by signing free agents. But the Knicks' performance won't help them lure star-caliber players in win-now mode.

Marc Gasol is expected to re-sign with Memphis, and San Antonio and Dallas loom as possible landing spots. Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge and Cleveland's Kevin Love appear likely to stay with their current teams.

Jackson and his basketball people might have to be creative in how they rebuild the Knicks. For now, Fisher continues to try to navigate them through a tough season and keep them believing they will enjoy success.

"I think he's doing a great job at that, just kind of keeping everybody upbeat,'' Carmelo Anthony said. " . . . If it was anybody else in his position, I think this probably would have crumbled already. But I think he does a great job of keeping everybody focused on the task at hand and just believing in what we're trying to do here.''

The Knicks already seem to have crumbled, but Fisher doesn't see it that way.

"We're working hard trying to change not just the way the team plays basketball but the mind-set and the approach to business as a whole for the entire organization,'' he said. "The wins and losses haven't been there the way we'd like them to be. But we're still focused steadfast on where we're trying to go and what we're trying to build.''

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