Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter
The Knicks got drilled by 24 points in their season-opener Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
It was New York’s second-worst loss in a season-opener in franchise history and it drew some boos from an unhappy home crowd.
Now they face the prospect of starting the season 0-2 since they must visit LeBron James and the new-look Cavs less than 24 hours later.
If the Bulls, who are projected by most NBA observers as the No. 2 team in the East, beat the Knicks by 24, what’s going to happen against the Cavs?
“I’m anxious to see myself how I’m going to bounce back and how we’re going to bounce back,” Carmelo Anthony said in the Knicks’ locker room after he went for a team-best 14 points on 5-for-13 shooting in a 104-80 loss to the Chicago Bulls. “I’m not worried about Cleveland, what LeBron and them guys have going on over there. I have to figure what’s going on over here with the New York Knicks.”
Nothing much right went on opening night, when starting point guard Jose Calderon was scratched just before the game with a calf injury and the Knicks were forced to start Shane Larkin in his place.
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Result: The Bulls coasted to an opening night road win over the Knicks at MSG 104-80 on Wednesday night in New York.
Need to know: The debut of Derek Fisher as head coach and the triangle offense, brought in by Phil Jackson, resulted in 80 points and 36.5 percent shooting from the floor (31-85) and 3 of 17 (17.6 percent) from 3-point range.
The Knicks only had two players in double figures as Carmelo Anthony had 14 points on 5 of 13 shooting in 29 minutes. Amar’e Stoudemire added 12 points and eight rebounds.
That was in contrast to the Bulls, who made 25 of 30 free throws and shot 50 percent from the floor. Bulls’ Taj Gibson had 22 points off the bench and Pau Gasol, in his debut for Chicago, pitched in 21 points. Derek Rose didn’t even get going with only 13 points on seven shots.
The game was close at the half 59-49 Chicago, before a 31-17 third quarter run made it an early night.
Links: Recap | Box score
Next up: The Knicks go on the road to open up Cleveland’s season and the return of LeBron James at 8 p.m. in Cleveland.
Derek Fisher discusses the Knicks’ season-opening loss to the Bulls at the Garden on Wednesday night:
Shane Larkin, acquired during the summer in the deal that sent Tyson Chandler to the Mavericks, will get the start in the Knicks’ season opener against the Bulls on Wednesday night in place of Jose Calderon.
Calderon came out for early warm-ups, but will not dress in the opener and is out with a strained right calf according to the Knicks.
Larkin is in his second year in the NBA after being drafted out of Miami. The son of former Reds shortstop Barry Larkin, Shane Larkin played in 48 games last year and played 10.8 minutes per game. He averaged 2.8 points and 1.5 assists. Larkin averaged 5.2 ppg. in 21 minutes in the preseason for the Knicks.
Calderon is considered day-to-day with the calf strain.
The Knicks and Bulls kick off their 2014-15 season on Wednesday night at MSG.
The game is scheduled to start at 8 p.m.
Andrea Bargnani will not play for the Knicks with a strained right hamstring, while Pablo Prigioni is considered probable with a sore lower back. Jose Calderon is also out with a strained right calf.
New York tied the season series 2-2 with the Chicago Bulls last year.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 22.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists over four games against Chicago last season. Tim Hardaway Jr. posted 12.8 points in four battles with the Bulls. J.R. Smith added 12.3 points. The Chicago Bulls were paced by DJ Augustine’s 17.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in two games versus the Knicks. Jimmy Butler tallied 15.7 points and 6.3 rebounds over three games.
Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer
In the spring of 2008, the Knicks were on the verge of their seventh straight losing season. The glory days were long gone and no longer in reach, but there was no remedy to the team’s most recent failures in sight. Instead, New York was weighed down by burdensome contracts during a time when a rebuilding strategy was needed.
With that in mind, in came Donnie Walsh. The veteran NBA executive and Brooklyn native was named President of Basketball Operations, and quickly declared his plan for getting the Knicks back on track. It would take time to rid the team of such unnecessary contracts (and players, too, for that matter) and as such, Walsh & Co. preached and asked the fan base for patience, and a little bit of extra faith along the way.
As they sacrificed talents like Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph along the way, New York prepared for the long-awaited summer of 2010. With cap space for up to two maximum contracts, the team hoped to attract some of the game’s biggest stars (perhaps most notably LeBron James and Chris Bosh) to the Big Apple.
When push came to shove, they instead ended up with Amar’e Stoudemire and a healthy helping of steady role players. The man otherwise known as STAT declared, “The Knicks are back,” and thus, the team was off and running with the perennial all-star leading the way.
Of course, continued injuries have since prevented Stoudemire from rising up as the M.V.P. candidate he once was to help lead the Knicks back to greatness. That said, proving to be a pioneer of sorts by ultimately choosing to don orange and blue, the big man’s presence undoubtedly opened up the door for the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, and the team’s continuously revolving door of role players to come to town as well.
Though the Knicks may have finally paired up two stars together in Anthony and Stoudemire, patience was once again preached as the duo struggled to fit and find a rhythm alongside one another on both ends of the court. Despite such an uphill battle, coupled with STAT’s inability to remain healthy, New York came together to win its first Atlantic Division title in two decades during the 2012-13 season, in spite of everything else.
As they looked primed to continue building off of such success, no one could have quite predicted the way things came crashing down last season. Then head coach Mike Woodson lost the locker room as he team faltered mightily.
One of the more passionate fan bases in all of sports, it’s safe to say Knicks fans continued (or continue, for the matter) to grow restless.
Carmelo’s newly signed five year contract gives the team hope and a new lease on life as they attempt to build around the star. The Knicks have a new coach, a new system, new players, and a fresh mentality on how to go about achieving success. With thirteen-time NBA champion Phil Jackson in the driver’s seat for the first time as an executive, many are anxious to see how he can help the team turn things around once and for all.
So far, many of Jackson’s moves have been small and subtle, but rather savvy. He’s off to a promising start.
But much like Walsh had in 2008, Jackson returns to the Big Apple while inheriting someone else’s team, so to speak. It’ll take time for him to right some wrongs, clean up evident mistakes, and help others break out of poor habits. What’s more, he won’t truly be able to make his biggest splashes of all until the summer of 2015, when the team benefits from more cap flexibility.
Taking that into consideration, fans have been asked to instill faith and have patience yet again. How much longer this next quest takes remains to be seen, but if one thing is for sure, Anthony can do his part to ease the pain by leading the way as the Knicks remain competitive and put forth a respectable product on the floor this coming season.
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