Derek Fisher still searching for rotation as Knicks beat Wizards

By on October 23, 2014

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The Knicks are six days away from opening night, but two of their likely starters are still nursing injuries.

While one of them — Jose Calderon — seems to be close to returning from a right calf strain, the other, Andrea Bargnani, remains in medical limbo with a pulled hamstring.

Both sat out the Knicks’ 103-100 win Wednesday over the Washington Wizards — who were without former Net Paul Pierce in his return to New York — in a preseason game at the Garden, and they both remain question marks for Friday’s final tuneup against Toronto in Montreal.

But the Knicks still have Carmelo Anthony, whose three-point play with 13.9 seconds left — he was fouled on a 15-footer — put the Knicks up by three for the eventual margin of victory.

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Anthony said he has been pleased with his scoring opportunities so far in the new triangle offense.

“Tonight was a good example, a good situation, a good test,” Anthony said, “to know and realize that coming down the stretch you can still run your offense and get things that you want done out there.”

Still, in spite of Anthony’s 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting (12 points in the final seven minutes), what was clear is that first-year coach Derek Fisher is having to juggle his lineup sooner than he would prefer as the first game approaches next Wednesday in Chicago.

And as a sign of how Fisher’s team is perceived around the league, in a survey of the league’s 30 general managers on NBA.com on Wednesday, only 3.8% picked the Knicks to win the Atlantic Division.

“I have my own goals and my own expectations for ourselves and it really doesn’t matter what anyone else says about us,” J.R. Smith said of the poll.

Said former Knicks great Walt (Clyde) Frazier: “That’s not a lot of faith in the Knicks.”

Knicks president Phil Jackson unintentionally knocked the team’s talent as well, telling Charley Rosen for a story on ESPN.com that Anthony is “obviously the team’s only certified All-Star.”

Smith finished with five points in 23 minutes on Wednesday and admitted he is struggling with his shot selection.

“I’m not going to lie,” Smith said, “I’m trying to think about the rest of the team over myself and my scoring. It’s something I never really had to do.”

Fisher suggested he may rest Calderon on Friday to make sure the point guard is healthy for the season opener.

As for Bargnani, who hasn’t played since the first preseason game on Oct. 8 against Boston, he seemed edgy in discussing the injury, which could keep the center out of the opener.

“There’s not much to say,” Bargnani said. “We’re working every day to get it better, to get it ready to go on the court. Of course, injuries are always frustrating.”

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