New York Knicks: Does Anybody Remember Defense? 1
Nov 6, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Utah Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward (20) drives the baseline against New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose (25) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Utah won 114-109. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks biggest problem was supposed to be fitting new players into their weird offense. If only that were true.

Maybe if New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek channeled Robert Plant, his team would pay attention. Because right now nothing’s working.

A brutal fourth quarter Sunday against the Utah Jazz concluded another poor defensive effort and led to the Knicks fourth loss in six games.


New York entered the final period with a two-point lead before allowing Utah to shoot 65 percent from the field, leading to a fourth-quarter rout.

After the loss, Derrick Rose was critical of the defense, more specifically the poor communication on pick and rolls.

“We got to play smarter for sure when the 1-3 and 1-4 pick-and-roll comes. Am I going to switch off on the 3 and let me defend him or is he going to be a show and I get under and back in front of the point guard?”

Rose’s comments echoed Courtney Lee‘s from a week ago.

Lee questioned the way the team practices, telling ESPN New York’s Ian Begley the Knicks should “practice against more game-like situations.”

“We run the triangle, we practice against it a lot. I think we need to practice against pick and rolls, practice against other looks and whatnot and get comfortable with that because that’s what other teams are running.”

Per Marc Stein of ESPN, the Knicks made a laughable decision in an attempt to fix the problem.

That’s right it’s Kurt Rambis. They placed their pathetic defense in the hands of Phil Jackson‘s pathetic lackey.

The move is unnecessary and comes off like another Jackson power play. Coach Hornacek’s reaction is telling: “It could’ve been anybody. It could’ve been Jerry (Sichting), could have been Corey (Gaines).”

In the words of their coach, the Knicks are trusting just “anybody” to turn around the league’s worst defense. This should go well.

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton pointed out the failures of Rambis’ defenses in his time with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Pelton’s colleague at ESPN, Zach Lowe, mocked New York’s decision to give a special assignment to the much-maligned Rambis.

Remember the good old days when we were worried about how Rose and Joakim Noah would fit with Melo and KP?

That was before the team went 2-4 in their first six games and gave up 100 points in each contest. Before they were last in defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) and defensive rebound rate (percentage of defensive rebounds grabs per game), per ESPN.com.

It gets worse. The Knicks are 28th in opponent’s three-point percentage, allowing opposing teams to shoot 37.9% from beyond the arc.

On the plus side, the sample size is small, and the roster is still getting used to being in a new situation. The downside is it doesn’t feel like the Knicks are looking at it that way.

Through six games they’ve been unquestionably the worst defensive team in the league. But they have the guy to turn that around. Joakim Noah of course.

The Knicks have been at their absolute best with their starting center on the court and laughably bad when he’s not. Per Basketball-Reference, New York is plus-9.6 points with Noah and minus-25.5 points without him (per 100 possessions).

The problem has been keeping him on the court. The 31-year-old is fifth in total minutes played behind the other starters.

https://youtu.be/zk7vkZ3dEXQ

Noah’s only averaging 24 minutes per game and logged 30-plus minutes just twice. The team probably just being careful with their $72 million investment. It’s early in the season, and he’s coming off a preseason hamstring injury. Another bad break for the Knicks.

Kurt Rambis getting control of the team’s defense was just another reminder that despite his claims to the contrary, Phil Jackson still wields all the power.

It’s no surprise Coach Hornacek’s team isn’t listening when he talks. Maybe he should try taking it an octave higher.

Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.

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