New York Knicks: Jeff Hornacek admits his team isn't good enough on defense
Jan 2, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek looks on with his team in the final seconds of the second half loss against the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek was honest about his team’s defense after a pathetic 115-103 loss to the Orlando Magic.

The effort the New York Knicks put forward in Monday night’s loss to the Orlando Magic was a joke. Their head coach decided that he wasn’t going to mince words after an 115-103 beatdown at home.

Jeff Hornacek’s team had just lost their fifth straight game and eighth in their last ten. 2017 started as poorly as 2016 ended for the Knicks and Hornacek was fed up.

Per Ian Begley of ESPN New York, the coach didn’t hold back when asked about his team’s performance on the defensive end.

“I think they’re trying,” Hornacek said of the Knicks. “We just must not be good enough defensively.”

Hornacek backed his players when their effort was questioned (Carmelo Anthony in particular) but saying that they’re not good enough is pretty telling. Maybe, even more, telling than if he were to have called them out for being lazy.

So how do the Knicks fix their problems on defense? Hornacek has an idea.

“I have to find someone to play some defense,” Hornacek said. “You can’t come out beginning of the game — I think their first three or four baskets were 3-pointers. We’ve got to have better pride in that.”

Hornacek seems open to the idea of making changes to his rotation. After what happened Monday, he should be.

“I don’t think our guys aren’t trying. Maybe we’re just not capable of it. I don’t know,” Hornacek said. “That’s what we’re going to have to figure out. Maybe you have to play some of these other guys. We might have to mix the lineup up somehow.”

Orlando’s three-point barrage wasn’t just three possessions long. It lasted the entire game.

The Magic entered Monday night at 27th in three-point percentage (33.4 percent) but led by six threes from Jodie Meeks; they were 48.4 percent from downtown (15-31) against the Knicks. All the open looks helped.

Hornacek said some more time in the gym could prevent his team from being manhandled as they were on Monday again.

“There are times where we just didn’t go after the ball hard enough,” Hornacek said. “There were some rebounds up there that they just took out of our hands and came over our backs. That’s when maybe we need to be in the weight room a little bit more.”

You don’t see coaches say things like that very often.

Monday night’s loss was hopefully rock bottom for this team who were playing without Kristaps Porzingis for the second straight time. He would’ve been a big help against Serge Ibaka and prevented Elfrid Payton from running amok in the paint. That needs to be kept in mind before the sky starts falling.

But the defense didn’t become terrible overnight. While the Knicks have allowed 115 points per game during their five-game losing streak, they’re also 25th in points allowed per 100 possessions and 27th in defensive rebound percentage.

The Knicks encompass almost all four factors on defense with mediocrity. They’re 26th in turnover percentage, and for a team that could use some easy baskets every once in awhile, that’s an unfortunate statistic.

Orlando averages 9.6 offensive rebounds per game. Monday night they grabbed 13 and dished out 35 assists and just 12 turnovers.

The Knicks were spanked on their home court by a bad team playing on the second leg of a back-to-back. Even their coach knew the team’s effort was a joke. He just didn’t want to admit it.

He seems to be ready to do something about it.

 

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