The night started with a video of Phil Jackson talking about what it takes to win, and saying how this could be the start of something “special.’’ It certainly didn’t look that way on opening night.
No one expected the Knicks to look good playing the triangle offense right away, but they looked worse than anticipated in Derek Fisher’s debut as coach. Carmelo Anthony was invisible for most of the night, the Knicks trailed by 35, and it didn’t take their fans long to voice their displeasure.
The Knicks suffered a 104-80 beating at the hands of the Bulls on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. They were booed for playing sloppily on both ends of the floor.
“Not ready for showtime, were we?’’ Jackson said.
The Bulls shot 11-for-16 in the third and ran away with a game they took control of early in the second quarter. The Knicks looked lost in the triangle, and played the kind of defense that brought back memories of last season’s 37-45 team.
It won’t get easier Thursday night in Cleveland in LeBron James’ first game back with the Cavaliers.
“We’re going somewhere,’’ Fisher said, “but at the beginning of where we’re going it’s going to be difficult to get wins. We have to fight really, really hard to win games.’’
Fisher waved the white flag after three quarters, as Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire didn’t play in the fourth. Anthony shot 5-for-13 and scored only 14 points. Stoudemire started at power forward and had 12.
Taj Gibson gave the Knicks fits all night, making 10 of 12 shots and scoring 22 points. Pau Gasol added 21 and 11 rebounds. Derrick Rose, in his first game since last November, had 13 points and five assists. The Bulls’ bench outscored the Knicks’ starters 55-43.
“If somebody just kicks down your mom’s door and takes what they want, I think you have to react,’’ J.R. Smith said. “You don’t have to sit there and think, ‘What should I do next?’ By that time, everything is going to happen.’’
It is inevitable that the Knicks will experience some serious growing pains this season. The test will be how they work out of it, and whether some of their players revert to individual or isolation basketball.
Not having Jose Calderon could have contributed to the offensive struggles. Less than an hour before tipoff, the Knicks announced Calderon was out because of the strained right calf that hampered him at the end of the preseason, and that Shane Larkin was starting.
At the outset, the Knicks moved the ball and got people besides Anthony involved. The crowd was into it and the bench was alive after a Stoudemire dunk midway through the first.
But the good play and good feelings didn’t last long. The Bulls started picking the Knicks apart late in the first quarter and never stopped.
After being down 10 at the half, the Knicks had a sluggish start to the third quarter, reminiscent of last season, and appeared to abandon the triangle. Their dormant defense led to frustration and bad possessions. They missed eight consecutive shots, four on one trip.
The Bulls went on a 15-5 run and led 74-54 after Aaron Brooks got inside and fed Gibson for a slam. The Bulls extended their lead to 24 later in the third quarter, when the Knicks shot 6-for-22 and were outscored 31-17.
“I’m not embarrassed,’’ Anthony said. “We will get better. I believe that. I know that.”