New York Knicks: Jeff Hornacek’s Early Gambles Don’t Pay Off

Dec 21, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek keeps an eye on the game in the first quarter against the Utah Jazz at vivint.SmartHome Arena Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 21, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek keeps an eye on the game in the first quarter against the Utah Jazz at vivint.SmartHome Arena Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /

As a die-hard New York Knicks fan, the sour taste of games that could have been won and yet are lost is inadmissible and infuriating.

Could the New York Knicks have prevented the loss to the Houston Rockets? Maybe not, but New York had a chance to prevent a two-game losing streak.

On A Good Note

First quarter highlights showed everything you hoped to see from Derrick Rose. The jumpers, the drives, the assists, the block on Detroit’s starting point guard Ish Smith.

The youngest MVP in NBA history was displaying what he calls a more mature and poised type of play.

This was fortunate for the Knicks since all five starters were struggling on the defensive end. I’m not going to criticize the individual efforts performed at The Palace, because there is no “I” in “team”.

Carmelo Anthony swatted the ball away from Tobias Harris on a one-on-one battle, Kyle O Quinn had a couple of blocks, and Kristaps Porzingis is always applying pressure while on defense. The type of defense that is not being executed properly is mainly perimeter defense and getting the extra help.

Both of these areas should keep improving as the season goes on. It’s a matter of putting in the time to build chemistry.

What You Don’t Like To See

Where to start? Is it the fact that Lance Thomas played most of the fourth quarter? If you’re going to steal Kristaps Porzingis’ spot, you better deliver. Perhaps the fact that Mindaugas Kuzminskas didn’t play when the Knicks struggled to shoot all night long.

What the Knicks absolutely don’t want to see in mid-April of 2017 is a playoff round against the Cleveland Cavaliers. We can all agree on that. That means New York needs to win as many games as possible.

If Jeff Hornacek has some other means of accomplishing the goal of going deep into the playoffs, please let know.

At least with Derek Fisher you could say that it was a learning curve as a rookie coach that he had to overcome when he sat Porzingis in the fourth quarter for too long.

What’s to love about Hornacek is his type of offense. Honestly, I didn’t think the team could learn to move the ball with Carmelo Anthony as the head of the snake until I watched the fourth quarter of the game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

What was Hornacek doing when he sat the starters until five minutes left in the second quarter you ask? The answer is that New York was playing back-to-back games. That sounds like a legitimate reason to rest your starters. Mike Conley got the same limited minutes against the Knicks when he didn’t play for long stretches of the game.

Knowing that New York was playing the Houston Rockets the next night, however, the train of thought should have been the following.

Which team is a better team? The Detroit Pistons? Or the Houston Rockets? Which game is more likely to be a win? If the answer is the Detroit Pistons, which it should be, then New York should’ve done all it could to get that win. Play hard and give the team a fighting chance to beat the Pistons.

If you come up short against the Rockets, that’s acceptable. James Harden and company are amazing 3-point shooters; New York was likely to lose that game.

Are you going to tell me I should relax? That it’s just the fourth game of the season? See, as a fan, I’ve been waiting years to see a winning team. Right now, people don’t expect the Knicks to go far, and as a fan, you’d like to prove them otherwise. The rule of thumb is always win the games that you’re suppose to win.

So Jeff Hornacek’s gamble cost the New York Knicks a win.

Must Read: Who stepped up against the Houston Rockets?

After the defensive circus performance the Knicks put up against the Rockets, you ask yourself: would I trade Jeff Hornacek’s fast style of play for a very experienced defensive mindful coach? Man, if only Tom Thibodeau or Frank Vogel had been available last summer.

There’s pride in defense, and there isn’t a more prideful fan base than the one in New York City.