The Knicks have 22 games left, and each loss improves their chances of getting the top overall pick in the June draft. But no one wants to lose the way the Knicks have in the past two games, and Derek Fisher wants to put a stop to it.
In the past week, Fisher has praised the Knicks for continuing to fight and then criticized them for not fighting enough. They followed back-to-back wins at Detroit and against Toronto with back-to-back losses to Sacramento and Indiana by a combined 61 points.
"The only way we have a chance to win as a team is to literally give everything we have, to exhaust ourselves with every ounce of energy and effort we can muster," Fisher said Wednesday night after a 23-point loss at Indiana. "And then we have to do the details and the execution and the X's and O's. But those things don't really matter as much if you're not fighting as hard as you possibly can fight."
At this point, all the 12-48 Knicks have to play for is pride.
It will be difficult to win games -- especially without Carmelo Anthony -- because there is such a big talent differential between the Knicks and most teams. But it shouldn't be difficult for the Knicks to muster the energy and effort that Fisher mentioned, as most of them are playing for their next contract or to prove they can be NBA players.
Only two of the Knicks' regular rotation players have fully guaranteed contracts for next season -- Tim Hardaway Jr. and rookie Cleanthony Early. Essentially, all of the Knicks are auditioning for next season because it is far from certain that Hardaway Jr. and Early will return.
"We have some guys that have no idea what this is like to be expected to perform at a certain level every night and have to give the team a chance to win," Fisher said. "So it's easy to become kind of envious and jealous of starters and franchise guys and [say], 'I wish I could play that much, I wish I could get that many shots.' And then when you're in that situation, you find out how tough that really is."
No one has distinguished himself, but the Knicks like undrafted rookie guard Langston Galloway. He has struggled after going from playing in the D-League to starting and being asked to close games. But the Knicks see potential in Galloway, who has a partial guarantee for next season, and like his makeup.
Fisher also has liked what he's seen from point guard Shane Larkin lately. But overall, he hopes to see more from everyone, especially fight.
"You always need to see that," Fisher said. "Guys just need to continue to challenge themselves and we need to continue to challenge ourselves as a group on how you do that night in and night out."
Notes & quotes: Andrea Bargnani, who has averaged 18 points in the last four games, has missed 49 games with injuries. He was asked if he thinks about how different the season could have been if he had been healthy from the start. "I try not to do that because it's pointless," he said. "It just gets you more frustrated." Bargnani, a free agent after the season, said he wants to stay in the NBA and not return to Europe. "Absolutely. What's the point of this question at this point of the season? But yeah, I want to play in the NBA."