Bargnani stepping it up for Knicks in Melo's absence

By on March 6, 2015

Andrea Bargnani's (r.) recent offensive awakening includes a 25-point effort Wednesday night against Indiana.Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images

Andrea Bargnani’s (r.) recent offensive awakening includes a 25-point effort Wednesday night against Indiana.

Someone was needed to assume the bulk of the Knicks’ scoring load with Carmelo Anthony out for the season. Save for one poor game earlier this week, the mostly forgotten Andrea Bargnani at least has been up to that too-little-too-late task.

While Derek Fisher has shown some frustration while trying to impress upon his less experienced players how to maintain a consistent effort level from game to game, particularly in successive lopsided losses this week, Bargnani rebounded from a quiet game Tuesday against Sacramento with a 25-point performance Wednesday in Indiana.

Bargnani, who missed all but two of the first 51 games this season with leg injuries, scored just three points in 18 minutes against the Kings the previous night. But the 7-foot Italian and pending free agent has averaged 18 points over his other six appearances since Anthony underwent surgery following the All-Star break.

“Guys are going to struggle in this league, the good ones are the ones that are able to kind of bounce back from those struggles. So it’s always a good sign to see a guy bounce back when he has a tough night,” Fisher said of Bargnani. “Andrea is an experienced player and has maybe a little more of a feel for how to do that, what it was what he needed to do (Wednesday) than maybe he did (the previous) night.

“The other guys are pretty young, that don’t know how to do that just yet. So as the season wraps up, this is a great experience for these guys to learn what it takes to be good night in and night out.”

Fisher mostly has remained positive outwardly throughout this NBA-worst 12-48 campaign, but the first-year coach had complained following Tuesday’s 38-point drubbing by the Kings that the Knicks didn’t play with the “level of character and integrity this group has been showing” in previous games.

“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,” Fisher said. “We had a couple of guys who kind of bounced back and looked better (in Indiana) than they did (against Sacramento).

“But collectively as a team to be able to do that, that’s really what this is all about. So I think guys are fighting, they’re trying, they’re putting effort in, but you find out when you go against good teams, who also are fighting, that’s not easy to do just because you decide on a certain night to do it.”

Added Bargnani: “It’s hard. We’re struggling. We’re not in good position. But we got to keep working. We got to keep staying together, keep our heads up and keep working. That’s all we can do at this point – keep working hard…We played very good two games in a row, we got two W’s. As good as we played in those two games, we played bad this back-to-back. We got to keep working and come back the next one. We play this team again (on Saturday at the Garden), so we gotta be ready for it.”

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