OKLAHOMA CITY - Derek Fisher returns to the site of his last NBA game with fond memories of his time with the Thunder, but it's been hard to create any with the Knicks.
Sixteen games into Fisher's coaching career, the lasting memories have been Trey Burke's game-winning, buzzer-beating shot for the Jazz at the Garden, Carmelo Anthony hobbling off the court in Houston with back spasms and Tyson Chandler's monster slam in overtime Wednesday night in Dallas.
As positive as Fisher has remained, the Knicks are 4-12 and tied for 12th place in the Eastern Conference. They have dropped 11 of their last 13 and, in Fisher's not-so-triumphant but welcoming return to Oklahoma City, likely will be without Anthony again Friday night because of his back troubles.
"They took me in and shined me up a little bit and I was a part of something special there for a couple of years,'' Fisher said. "I'm thankful to have this opportunity to now be in this position as a coach going back there, a place that I'll always appreciate and value.''
Fisher, who won five championships with the Lakers, said it won't be as emotional as his first time back in Los Angeles. He spent parts of three seasons in Oklahoma City and reached the NBA Finals while serving as a leader for Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and a talented young Thunder team.
Durant is set to become a free agent after next season. There have been rumblings that his relationship with Fisher and assistant coach Brian Keefe, who came over from the Thunder, could help bring Durant to the Knicks.
They hope to make that a reality. But Durant's hometown Washington Wizards and the Lakers also have been rumored as landing spots for the reigning MVP, and there's always the possibility that he will remain with the Thunder.
That could depend on what roster moves the organization makes between now and then. Oklahoma City is off to the same 4-12 start as the Knicks, but Durant hasn't played a single game because of a broken foot and Westbrook suffered a broken hand in the second game of the season.
The two All-Stars are close to returning. Both are listed as out for Friday night's game, but that's subject to change, given that Durant and Westbrook recently returned to practice.
The Knicks are having their own struggles trying to figure out how to win with and without Anthony, who is listed as doubtful for Friday night.
The Knicks led in the fourth quarter in the past two games in Houston and Dallas, and led the Mavericks in overtime, too, but couldn't close it out. Poor execution, missed shots and costly turnovers doomed them.
The Knicks scored eight points in the last 8:50 in Monday night's five-point loss in Houston. In Dallas, center Samuel Dalembert short-armed a floater from 2 feet away with a chance to give the Knicks the lead with 9.9 seconds left in regulation.
After J.R. Smith gave the Knicks a 99-97 lead with 2:38 left in overtime, they committed five turnovers and missed three of their last four shots.
"We got to keep being positive,'' Jose Calderon said. "We needed one of these just to get the confidence for everybody, for players, for everybody. We're working hard out there. We're giving everything we got. We've got to clean up some stuff. Hopefully we can get over the hump, over the last three, four minutes.''