CHARLOTTE – New Knicks starting shooting guard Evan Fournier agreed with Tom Thibodeau’s stunning benching of the starters for the final 14 minutes of a disheartening 112-100 loss to Milwaukee Wednesday.
But Fournier and RJ Barrett don’t exactly agree with Thibodeau’s basic salty post-game premise that the excuse of getting to know each other is wearing thin. The guards were the two starters made available to the press after the morning shootaround at a Charlotte recreational center before facing the Hornets Friday night.
“How did it feel?,’’ Fournier said of the quintet being benched. “The (bench) guys were playing well. You obviously want to be on the floor. But we had no business being on the court.’’
Thibodeau’s salty and pointed remarks that ended his press conference Wednesday night were so profane that team-operated MSG Network cut it from its post-game show when it normally shows his entire presser.
That didn’t stop Thibodeau from making headlines.
“When it’s 10 games, you say we need 20,” the coach said angrily of his team learning to play together. “When it’s 20, you say 30, When it’s 30, you say it’s 40. Before you know it, the season’s over. It’s a bunch of bull—t.”
Well, not according to Barrett and Fournier.
“Everything takes time – any new team,’’ Barrett said. “No one’s going to have it right away off the bat. It takes time. We’re trying to figure out who we are if we’re going to be consistent.
“I think this whole team. Even though we were together last year, the guys that were here, we’re still learning each other, so we’re gonna keep growing, improving.’’
Fournier and starting point guard Kemba Walker are new to the team and starting center Mitchell Robinson missed the final three months last season with a broken foot.
Each starting players is a minus through the first 12 games: Walker is a team-worst minus-66 followed by Robinson (minus-43), Barrett (minus-28), Julius Randle (minus-26) and Fournier (minus-25).
Because of their bench, the Knicks are 7-5. The second unit, which was together last season, rallied from 24 down vs. Milwaukee to tie the score in the fourth quarter before running out of steam. Thibodeau refused to put back any of the five starters as the game slipped away.
Asked if the starters are still feeling each other out Fournier said, “Yeah, I mean obviously. We haven’t been playing good together lately. But the good thing is we did early. So we know we’re capable of playing together. That’s the positive thing. We just have to come to that. Hopefully tonight.’’
Fournier senses the offensive flow is “very stagnant.’’
“Ball movement, body movement,’’ he said. “We have to find that rhythm that we had early on – those first five games of the season. So just make sure we share the ball. Sometimes you pass the ball just to pass the ball and the rhythm is going to come back. Once we all touch the ball, you get a good rhythm, you get better shots. And then we all feel good. I think that’s the main thing going forward.’’
Signed to a $78 million deal over four years, Fournier hasn’t yet lived up to being a rock at shooting guard and the defense has suffered. Fournier is averaging 13.8 points, shooting just 41.7 percent overall, with a respectable-but-hardly-glowing 36 percent from 3.
“I think it’s a perfect reflection of our starting unit,’’ Fournier said of his first season in New York. “We started really well, shooting the ball well, sharing the ball, et cetera. Now it’s not as good. So are we playing not as well because we are missing shots or are we missing shots because we aren’t sharing the ball.’’
Published on: Article source