The ball is sticking for the Knicks. And no one can blame Carmelo Anthony this time.
Coach Jeff Hornacek acknowledged after practice Thursday the Knicks’ offense lately has become overreliant on Kristaps Porzingis and Michael Beasley. This has led to some predictability and stagnation in the offense with the ball not moving side to side.
Gee, have we ever heard that before?
“One thing that we’re not doing a good job of right now that we got away from is moving the ball from side to side. It’s sticking on one side,” Hornacek said. “Even if we come off a pick-and-roll on one side, we’re dribbling it back and trying to throw it into that mismatch. We got to move the ball on. We’re going to continue working on that. That opens it up for everybody. When you become predictable on where the ball’s going to go, the defense can lock in.”
And the Knicks had a heavy emphasis on that at practice Thursday.
“Today’s practice was great,” Hornacek said. “Guys that were out there did a great job of moving. Consequently they got a lot of easy shots. That’s how we have to get back to playing.”
So why has it happened? Phil Jackson’s favorite scapegoat is in Oklahoma City, after all.
“Sometimes, they see a mismatch and they see Mike or KP, they have a guard on them. Guys are trying to play smart and say, ‘Hey, that’s our mismatch,’” Hornacek said. “But it is getting us a little stagnant. That’s fine for us to do occasionally. But we can’t do that every time there’s a switch that we do that. It’s something we got to get better at.”
The Knicks’ last two defeats — sandwiching a road win in Dallas — were both in overtime and came by a combined total of seven points. They lost 107-103 in Miami, then they dropped a 122-119 double-overtime gut-punch Wednesday to Chicago. But players insisted Thursday the mental state is fine.
“Yeah, 100 percent. This is basketball. You win some, you lose some. You never lose your confidence,” Courtney Lee said. “You know what you’re capable of doing. If we was perfect, we wouldn’t be having these conversations. No one’s perfect. We’re going to lose some games. It’s just about how you approach it, how you learn from it, how you get better from it and how you go out there and apply it to the next game.”
Enes Kanter said confidence is not an issue.
“We are playing for a playoff spot,” Kanter said. “You cannot let this affect us. You can learn from it and keep moving forward.”
The Knicks playing the Timberwolves always invites discussion regarding Kristaps Porzingis and Karl-Anthony Towns, respectively the No. 4 and No. 1 picks in the 2015 draft and part of the new wave of super studs.
“Every year, every cycle in the NBA, there’s old guys who are getting older but there are young guns who are trying to push them out of the league,” Hornacek said. “Guys like Towns and KP and some of these other young guys, it’s fun to see — can they do that? Can they push the old guys out?
“It’s a heck of a challenge for them.”
Since the Dec. 21 date predicted as the start of a potential minefield for their season, the Knicks have gone 3-8, including 2-5 on the road. More hard times could be ahead as the Knicks play 10 of their next 12 games on the road.