DENVER - The Knicks are on pace for a franchise-worst season. In that circumstance, it can be hard to hold on to core beliefs.
But coach Derek Fisher said before last night's game against the Nuggets that he still believes in one of team president Phil Jackson's pet precepts.
No, it's not the triangle. Fisher has said all season he's not abandoning that system. He was talking about "mindfulness training" -- the group meditation exercises the players go through at Jackson's behest.
"Yes, we have tried to carry it out," Fisher said. "We've done some things collectively as a group. Some guys have done some things individually. It's always hard to measure how much that adds up to wins and losses, per se. But there definitely is a part of this business that involves the development of the whole person and not just the athlete. So as we look at how we're building this out, we have several [players] that are in their first year, second year, third years, that we have to establish some habits with. I think the mental performance piece is a big part of it."
Forward Jason Smith said the Knicks have had more than 10 of the sessions sprinkled throughout the season.
"It's making sure you're in the positive mindset and in the moment and pushing out the static you have in your life and all the stresses and focus on making the best of the moment," Smith said. "It's really just mindful training of conscious breathing. It reminds me of yoga -- make sure the body is centered and balanced and focusing on the moment."
There haven't been many positive moments for the Knicks this season -- they entered Monday night's game at 12-49 -- but Fisher did point out the team is 7-13 since a 5-36 start.
"You can't just lift weights and shoot baskets and not develop the mind," Fisher said. "The idea is that you want to develop a way to view yourself and view how you need to prepare yourself to train and to perform and to play . . . Phil's been doing this for a long time. I believe in it, and it's going to be something that we continue to do."
One of Jackson's signature moves as coach of the Bulls and Lakers was giving players books to read to help them on and off the court. Fisher said he got books as a player from Jackson but admitted he didn't always read them. He also said he hasn't started handing out books yet as a coach.
"There's a whole person involved in a successful basketball player, and I think reading is important," he said. "So it's not really just about giving a guy a book to read and that's going to help him make more three-pointers. But how is he developing as a person and as a man? I'll make suggestions. This is my first year, so I think there will be a lot of things I'll do and be able to build into. But I wasn't necessarily in a rush to start a book club this year. We've got a lot going on."
Notes & quotes: The Knicks were without Tim Hardaway Jr. (back spasms) and Quincy Acy (sore left knee). Lou Amundson returned after missing a game with back spasms . . . Alexey Shved started for the first time as a Knick.