[Video] Hornacek Rips Starters in 131-123 Loss to Nuggets

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Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

What happens when you face the statistically worst defense in the league? You drop 123 points on their head. But what also happens with your defense is equally as trash? You still lose because you gave up 131 points at home! The Knicks continue to be the laughingstock of the league with another L to fall 11 games under .500.

Coach Hornacek is at his wit’s end and let the starters have it to start his post-game interview.

Couldn’t guard anybody. Simple as that. They should be embarrassed by the way they couldn’t guard anybody… So those guys are happy scoring their points. We’re going to lose every game.

The venom was warranted. The Nuggets at one point late in the first quarter were shooting 75% and finished 6/11 from three-point range. Luckily, the Knicks were on their own shooting barrage and were only down 2 (34-32) to start the second quarter.

The Knicks played their best ball last night with the second unit, who pushed the pace and attacked the Nuggets defense in transition.  Kyle O’Quinn (16 points on 8/9, 4 blocks) got after it on both ends. Willy Hernangomez (12 points) showed great hands catching needle-thread passes from Brandon Jennings (6 points, 13 assists) on fast breaks.

But it would all go to hell once the starters returned. A 12-point second quarter lead evaporated via an 11-3 Nuggets run and the Knicks, despite scoring 66 POINTS, could only settle for a two-point halftime lead.

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YOU CAN’T OUTSCORE BAD DEFENSE: The second half was just an abomination on the defensive end. Kristaps Porzingis, starting his first game as a center, got a somber wake-up call from Nikola Jokic, who lit him and the rest of the Knicks bigs up for a career-high 40 points. It wasn’t just points — KP was getting rag-dolled in there when it came to rebounding. He’s simply not strong enough yet to bang consistently in the paint. Still, I agree with Hornacek that KP’s lack of physicality doesn’t excuse everything that happened last night.

With the length, it should help, he should be quicker than that guy. He should be able to get up on him. He might get overpowered at some point but a lot of (Jokic’s) shots, he just lined ’em up. Spun the ball around with the seams and just shot it in. If our guys think that’s a challenged shot, we need to redefine what that is.

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WHEN 21 POINTS IN 12 MINUTES AIN’T ENOUGH: Carmelo Anthony, being the quintessential scorer that he is, thought he could shoot us back into it. He went 8/8 in the fourth quarter with 4 three-pointers, including several that got the deficit back in single digits. But it was all for naught since the Knicks couldn’t get stops. One late back-breaking sequence saw the Knicks give up a four-point play after Melo had cut the deficit to six.

Tonight it was bad. As players we’ve got to take that upon ourselves and hold ourselves accountable for that and we have to do better. We have to do better on the defensive end.

The Knicks will remain home for a national afternoon game against the Spurs on Sunday (February 12).

 

Road Trip Failure: Nuggets 127, Knicks 114

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Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

After choking in Phoenix and getting embarrassed on national TV by Golden State, the Knicks claimed they were viewing tonight’s game against the Denver Nuggets as a “must-win.” It turned out to be all talk as the Knicks had one of their worst defensive showings of the season giving up 127 points. Finishing 2-3 on this road trip after starting 2-0, it wouldn’t be hyperbole to call this our worst stretch of basketball this year.

PATHETIC DEFENSE: The Nuggets had free rein in the paint, outscoring New York 68-32. You know the effort is atrocious when shooting deficient guys like Kenneth Faried (25, 10/11) and Emmanuel Mudiay (22, 10/15) torch you. The Nuggets scored at least 30 in every quarter as every starter hit double figures.

EVEN MORE PATHETIC OFFENSE: The Knicks shot 32% in the first and barely got over 40% for the game. Carmelo Anthony was the only Knick to shoot well, scoring 29 points on 10/14 shooting. Porzingis dropped 22, but was 7/19 (1/6 from downtown). The lone bright spot outside of Anthony was Willy Hernangomez, who made the most of his 28 minutes with 17 points and 10 boards.

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SLIPPING POSITION: This loss drops the Knicks to 5th in the standings. Luckily, most of the other teams outside of Cleveland and Toronto are struggling .500 teams. That means if New York can get their act together (big if…), they’ll regain the #3 spot going into 2017.

 

WHERE WAS THE EFFORT?: Frankly, the Knicks just gave up. They never matched the energy of Denver even when they got the deficit to 4 early in the third quarter. They never had the desperation of a team looking to break a losing streak. The futility prompted a rare tantrum from Coach Hornacek when he threw a cup and clipboard during a huddle.

We can only hope coming back to New York will remind this group of their capabilities. They face Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.

Where Is Melo??? Nuggets Run Knicks Off the Court 117-94

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You give a garbage effort, you get garbage results. This has been the case in the last two pathetic games: first the Warriors embarrassed the Knicks with a 30-point blowout, and the Nuggets added to the misery of Melo’s homecoming with a 117-94 defeat last night. It was a horrible game in all facets, including more serious injuries to two of our best players. When it rains it pours…

 

BLOOD IN THE WATER: Even though the Knicks were only down 5 points (26-31) at the end of the first quarter, the writing was on the wall. The defense was very porous with the Nuggets being able to outrun the Knicks in transition to get repeated layups. The Knicks repeated their folly the entire quarter — after every made basket, they were slow to get back as the Nuggets pushed the ball down their throats. The Knicks made a few treys to keep it close, but the energy level was alarmingly high in the Nuggets’ favor with the Knicks looking every bit like the older, banged up bunch they are.

 

2ND QUARTER MASSACRE: Nuggets coach George Karl told his team regarding their uptempo style that, “We run them, they don’t run us.” With Melo resting on the bench, the offense attempted to go through JR Smith to disastrous results. Smith missed a bunch of long jumpers and coughed the ball up several times. The stagnant offense was mirrored on the defensive end with the Nuggets going on a back-breaking 16-0 run. Novak couldn’t hit anything from downtown, and Wilson Chandler outran him down the court repeatedly for layups and dunks.

The Nuggets run extended to 21-1 and when the smoke cleared, The Knicks were looking at a 64-42 halftime deficit. To make matters worse, Tyson Chandler had to be carried off the court after banging his left knee on Corey Brewer and suffering a left knee contusion.

 

MELO CALLS IT A NIGHT: Melo’s right knee wasn’t much better than the previous game against the Warriors. He could only muster 9 points on 3-12 shooting before he headed back to the locker room. The rest of the team look bewildered at him leaving, and I’m sure that did nothing for their moral. The Denver crowd had booed Melo every time he touched the ball and have a great time even in his absence with chants of “Where is Melo?” and “Who needs Melo?”

[youtube http://youtu.be/9mtDxKoWDto]

 

COMPLETE AND UTTER FAILURE: Melo can be criticized in a  few areas this season like taking nights off on defense and being erratic with his shot selection. But these recent games are a collective failure. Our guards can’t keep anyone out the paint and our defensive rotations are horrible. Our best paint defender in Tyson Chandler constantly finds himself switched out onto the perimeter. The offense consists heavily of isolation plays with lots of standing around. The accountability is not there. Just last night, JR Smith appeared to have free reign while Iman Shumpert, who had his best game since returning from ACL surgery (20 points, 8-10 shooting), was seen getting chastised by Woodson after one bad three-point shot.

 

We are in trouble, guys. With Melo possibly out for a game or two and Chandler for God knows how long, it would not be a surprise to go through this road trip 1-4 or 0-5. We could find ourselves in the fourth seed and out of the Atlantic division lead by the time we make it back to Madison Square Garden to face the Magic on March 20.

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Melo’s Return Lifts Knicks Over Nuggets 112-106

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Carmelo Anthony had a great return after a two-game absence from a lacerated finger to drop 34 points, 6 rebounds and two steals on his old Denver Nuggets team to help New York remain the league’s only undefeated home team at 8-0. After a horrid road game in Chicago last Saturday that saw the Knicks shoot 32% (35% from three), New York did much better with Anthony’s offense back in rotation, posting a 43% field goal percentage (12-30 for 40% from downtown). Even so, Denver still played the Knicks hard and held an 88-80 lead at the beginning of a fourth. A timely Mike Woodson timeout lead to two Novak three-pointers and a Chandler dunk to tie the game, and the Knicks would go on to outscore the Nuggets 32-22 for the quarter. Jason Kidd was once again invaluable in the fourth, dishing six assists and keeping the offense balanced with scoring contributions from Smith, Chandler, Melo and Brewer.

The Knicks are back on the “road” tonight when they venture back to Brooklyn for a revenge game against the Nets, who took the first “Battle for NY” on November 26 in overtime.

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