Derek Fisher is trying to stay in the moment, even after raising eyebrows and likely eliciting some laughs when he said the Knicks could go from 15 wins to 63 next season.
Fisher changed the starting lineup Friday night because he said he wanted to get off to a better start in the 79th game of the worst season in franchise history. And the Knicks did get off to a better start -- but they stumbled after halftime and lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, 99-91, at the Garden.
Langston Galloway scored 20 and Lance Thomas 16 for the Knicks (15-64). Giannis Antetokounmpo had 23 and Khris Middleton 22 for the Bucks.
Milwaukee offers evidence that a quick turnaround can be made. The Bucks won 15 games last season and coach Jason Kidd has them on the verge of clinching a playoff berth.
But Fisher said Thursday that the Knicks don't want to just "squeeze in" to the playoffs and that they could go from "15 to 63'' wins.
"I don't know if it's about singling out a team or an example," he said Friday night. "I think my point was just that whatever it is you need in order to make the jump, we have it. So we just have to make the choices that need to be made and commit to the process of doing so. The cap space is there, the draft pick will be there, unfortunately yet fortunately, and it's up to us to do what we need to do with it and continue to work harder and get better."
The Knicks could draft a 19-year-old. Fisher was asked if he's worried about a teenager handling the pressure, but he wouldn't look ahead.
"I've been pretty generous with answering the questions of the future, but that one's a stretch," he said. "The guys that are here right now, I think I owe them more than that to start to try and identify how this particular guy might impact our team next year."
Notes & quotes: Fisher addressed his players after the Pacers' Chris Copeland was stabbed outside a Chelsea nightclub at 4 a.m. Wednesday. "We took that example to highlight to our players to try and avoid those situations as much as they can," he said. J.R. Smith enjoyed the Manhattan nightlife when he was a Knick and told ESPN, "I feel like a target every time. So I try to handle myself with care when I'm out and about." He added, "Guys like to have a good time. Just like the average college student. It just so happens that we got a lot of money, we're young and famous, and people want to want to see us and we like to be seen.''