By Fred Kerber November 7, 2015 | 1:54am
Numbers tell scary story for Knicks’ starting backcourt
Knicks starting guard Sash Vujacic, who scored just two points, puts up a shot during Friday's game. Photo: Bill Kostroun
The Knicks starting backcourt of Jose Calderon and Sasha Vujacic played nearly 43 combined minutes in Friday’s 99-92 loss — 42:42, to be exact.
And they combined for two points.
“I think it’s a combination of pressing and trying to do the right things, trying to kind of handle some things from a leadership standpoint, making sure the team is executing, doing what they need to do,” coach Derek Fisher said of his guards, who were looked upon by the sold-out Garden crown about as favorably as some squirmy objects on a petri dish.
“It’s not as though they’re getting a ton of opportunities to shoot the ball and score points. But I think they’re both good shooters, if they get opportunities to shoot the basketball I think they can make them. It’s not really about any one or two guys. If we’re relying on Sasha and Jose to offensively make sure that we’re going to win, then we’re probably not doing the right things.”
Even another guy having a tough time shooting, Carmelo Anthony, defended the guards.
“I’m just trying to keep those guys confident in their game and what we’re trying to do,” he said, “because it’s easy when you’re losing games to put your head down and mope around and lose your confidence. So for me, I’m trying to give them that confidence and let them know that we’ll be OK.”
We had an Eastern sunrise, a Western sunset and a Knicks game devoid of Arron Afflalo.
But some things actually may change. It might not be Sunday, as Afflalo had hoped, but there is an upcoming two-game trip to Toronto and Charlotte.
“They’re still going to put me through some tests [Saturday[ to see how I respond,” said Afflalo, who has yet to play this season because of a strained hamstring. “From the discussions based on where I am at, I can’t say Sunday, but anticipate trying to get out there on this road trip that we have.”
Afflalo said he participated in a 5-on-5 drill in a Thursday optional practice, and will do it again Saturday.
“They didn’t officially say anything about Sunday just yet, but they did say they will let me get out there and practice [Saturday],” said Afflalo, who added he is “beyond” frustrated.
Fisher defended Anthony’s shot selection during his slow shooting start this season.
“I don’t think his shot selection has been terrible. I think it’s improved,” Fisher said of Anthony, whose season ended last February before he underwent knee surgery. Oftentimes, the rest of the guys put the quote-unquote ‘franchise player’ in bad positions. They think one thing, that’s ‘go score.’
“And a lot of times it’s everybody else’s job to do things around him that makes it easier for him not just to score, but to kind of see the game. So it’s not so much about his shot selection but the responsibility of our guards and some of our other leaders to make sure we’re executing offensively and we’re not just throwing it in to him and standing around and watching him play.”
Jason Kidd on the Knicks: “They’re better. There’s better players around Melo. So no matter what their record is at the end, they’re going to get better as the season goes along. I think they’re better than last year.”
The Knicks honored the late Bergen County (N.J.) Police Lt. Brian Beutel, who collapsed during a charity basketball game to raise funds for the “Tomorrow’s Children’s Fund,” which raised money for pediatric cancer. Beutel’s widow and five children accepted the Knicks’ Sweetwater Clifton City spirit Award at halftime.