The Knicks split the first two games of their three-game homestand between Thursday's 106-103 win over the Mavericks and Saturday's loss to the Hornets, but they came away from the opposite final results with an optimistic outlook overall.
"We're giving these guys 30 to 45 minutes to be happy or to be down and then we've got to move on to the next, but there's a lot of positives that came from that," said second-year head coach David Fizdale. "I would say it's the best two games we've played back-to-back this year. The kid just ... hit a bomb on us, ripped our hearts out, but we got some good learning lessons that we can take from it and get better from."
The Knicks (3-10) have a chance to win two of three for the first time on the early 2019-20 season when they return to action at Madison Square Garden for Monday's 7 p.m. tip-off against the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-8).
After the Knicks hit a big shot on a Marcus Morris three-pointer with 13.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter to beat the Mavs (7-5), Devonte Graham's ninth triple of the night with 2.8 ticks to go reversed the roles in the loss to the Hornets (6-7).
While the Knicks came out of the two games in three days with an injury to Mitchell Robinson, who sat out Sunday's practice due to an ankle issue, the team took the past two performances in stride.
RJ Barrett, who dropped 22 points on 8 of 16 shooting and went 2-for-4 from long range with five rebounds and two assists in the Knicks' loss to the Hornets, put the experience into pespective.
"I think everybody responded good," Barrett said. "So like we keep saying, it's a long season and that was a really tough shot that hit at the end -- I think they had two of those in a row, actually. So you know teams make shots. All we can do is look forward to the next game."
While the Knicks' effort yields promise, they have to avoid a letdown after their last buzzer-beating loss -- Nov. 1's 104-102 defeat at the Boston Celtics (10-2) -- made the wheels fall off in Nov. 3's 113-92 home blowout against the Sacramento Kings.
"We've been playing really good basketball," Barrett said. "And when you play good basketball, that's kind of what happens -- everybody kind of gets behind you, everybody wants to see you succeed."