Knicks' Derek Fisher: 'I have to do a better job'

NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony wasn't in the mood to offer any deep analysis after the New York Knicks' loss Friday night.

"We're just not getting it done," he said.

That's a blanket statement and could apply to a number of things that happened on the court against the Cleveland Cavaliers. But part of the focus on Friday's 90-84 loss to the Cavaliers should lie with late-game execution -- or lack thereof.

For the second straight game, the Knicks failed to hold a significant fourth-quarter lead. And for the second straight game, they walked off the court knowing they let a precious opportunity slip away.

Derek Fisher put the onus on himself.

"I have to do a better job of putting guys in position to be successful out there," the coach said. "They're doing what we're asking them to do."

Fisher didn't mention any specifics, but it's clear he hasn't yet found a lineup he's comfortable with late in close games.

For a few possessions in the final two minutes of Friday's game, Fisher played Lance Thomas and Lou Amundson ahead of Kristaps Porzingis and Robin Lopez.

With that combination on the court, the Knicks were outplayed in a decisive stretch. LeBron James and Mo Williams each hit jump shots, and Williams knocked down two free throws with Amundson and Thomas on the floor. New York could get only one score in its two possessions over the 1:11 stretch.

It's unfair to point solely at Amundson and Thomas for the Knicks' late-game failure. But given the talent left on the bench at the time, Fisher certainly left himself open to second-guessing.

"It's my job to help the situation get better down the stretch," he said.

It's troubling but understandable that the Knicks (4-6) have lost two winnable games early in the season. They are a team with eight new players added to a returning core that won only 17 games last season.

"We do need to learn how to play with each other a little bit more down the stretch," Arron Afflalo said.

On Wednesday in Charlotte -- Afflalo's season debut -- the Knicks failed to protect a 10-point fourth-quarter lead.

On Friday, they were up by five with 4:26 to play but failed to score over the next three minutes.

Fisher hinted the Knicks might have relied on Anthony too often late in the fourth quarter.

"We get into trouble when we start to try to manufacture offense individually as opposed to doing it as a unit," he said. "That's when we had our best quarters, when all five guys are playing together and there's not any one person worried about their own shot or their own opportunity."

Anthony went 0-for-3 with a turnover in the final 4:26. He had 22 points in the first half but only four after halftime. He said afterward that he needs more from his teammates late in the game.

"Guys are maybe looking at me a little bit too much instead of making the right play," he said.

It didn't help the Knicks that James outplayed Anthony down the stretch, scoring 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the fourth quarter while Anthony went 1-for-6.

Overall, the Knicks missed 17 of 21 shots in the final period and scored just four points in the final five minutes.

They've struggled for much of the season in clutch situations, defined as five minutes or less remaining in the game and the score within five points.

The Knicks are 21st in field-goal percentage (37 percent) in such situations. The club also has the fifth-highest turnover ratio in the clutch.

That's not good.

In the big picture, though, the Knicks are probably in a better position than most would have expected. Eight of their first 10 games were against teams that made the playoffs a season ago.

So Anthony is encouraged. "We believe in ourselves. We're right there," he said.

But it's probably hard for him not to imagine where the Knicks could be if they'd executed late in tight games.

"We're going to be in a lot of close games," Anthony said. "It's just a matter of us figuring it out."

Just how long that takes may be a key to this Knicks season. They'll get their next chance to figure it out on Sunday afternoon against New Orleans.