Before we begin, let me just say that this photo is the best thing in the history of the world.
The Knicks went through a spirited practice on Thursday morning, and then rode out the gauntlet of media attention following their Opening Night loss to Cleveland. It’s not even Game 2 yet and coach Jeff Hornacek is being asked if Courtney Lee can live up to his billing on offense. Welcome to New York, Jeff, where the questions come extra inane and without relent.
I think (hope) Derrick Rose learned the ultimate lesson on Tuesday when he made an off-hand quip about the Triangle Offense being “foreign” to him. Big mistake, bro: The first rule of Triangle Club is you do not talk about Triangle Club, not unless you want to be answering bullshit Triangle questions for the rest of your life. This time, Rose spoke mostly of turnovers and poor passing. That’s the stuff, Derrick: Keep it vague, and never use the ‘T’ word.
The Knicks actually ran a great deal of pick-and-roll on Tuesday, which is all well and good, but Hornacek believes that they were too reliant on jump shots, per Marc Berman:
“Part of the strategy in basketball that’s changed over the years is nobody gets the other team in foul trouble. This pick-and-roll stuff where guys are just jacking 3’s all the time, all that leads to is jump shots. Some nights you’re going to make them and you’re going to win. Other nights, you’re not going to make them and you’re going to lose.”
“So we’ve got to find that mix where we can pound it inside to some of our guys who have the advantage, draw some fouls, get in the bonus early.”
Obviously dumping the ball into the post repeatedly isn’t going to get them to the free-throw line any more often. New York finally has some guards who can get to the rim, yet they still lack a talent for drawing fouls.
Hornacek singled out Lee and Justin Holiday as playing well on defense, but savaged the team’s overall perimeter D. To his credit, Hornacek seems to have a grip on the real problem: chaotic, careless over-helping: "If you're outside the lane and then you move in to help, you're not going to get out to the 3-point shot.”
That’s a far cry better than the Kurt Rambis days, when the coach actually encouraged the team to gather in the paint for a nice little social gathering while opponents bombed away from downtown. Now all Hornacek has to do is teach his players to stay with shooters. Easier said than done, of course, but the first step is always admitting your problem.