Following a bounce back three-game winning streak, the Knicks appeared to be off and running. That all came to a crashing halt in their 119-97 loss to the Rockets on Wednesday night.
Jeff Hornacek wants his team to develop a steady offensive flow by pushing the pace with a more run and gun style. As the Knicks are still in the process of putting the pieces together, a much more polished and experienced team in the form of Houston ran circles around the home team. Whereas New York was a bit sloppy and overzealous with the ball, the Rockets made crisp passes and got up and down the floor much quicker than the Knicks could have hoped.
Because they are used to playing a more uptempo style, the Rockets are more accustomed to the kind of agility and speed it takes to fall back defensively and be there to apply pressure on the other end, even if your own shots aren’t falling. They’re experienced in going back and forth — the quicker a team goes, the sooner they’ll simply get back on the other end for additional offensive opportunities. The Knicks don’t have that mentality just yet. Instead of getting back on D, players are still in the mode of complaining to referees and/or exhibiting frustration when things go south offensively. New York committed 19 turnovers, and it was clear they were unevenly matched against a very competitive Rockets squad. They have a lot to learn.
There’s not much cause for concern, however. It’s to be expected for the Knicks to lose to a team like Houston. As they move forward, matchups with the Suns, Pacers, and Hornets would all appear to be more winnable games. The key here is not letting the mishaps against the Rockets seep in and cause New York to have a negative mentality. That’s how losing streaks start, as the team obviously knows quite well. It’s important to chalk this game up to a lack of experience, skill, rhythm, whatever. The Rockets are elite at what they do.
There were some positives, however: Tim Hardaway Jr. looked comfortable offensively, exhibiting a much needed confidence for the third straight game. Over the last three contests, Hardaway Jr. is averaging a versatile 23.3 points (on 50% from the field and 43% from deep), 5 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2.3 steals. He’s shooting well, helping the Knicks move the ball, and has been active on both ends of the floor. Rookies Frank Ntilikina (8 assists and 5 steals) and Daymean Dotson (9 points and 3 rebounds) also had positive outings. The No.8 pick wasn’t shooting well, but he didn’t let that affect his confidence around the other facets of his game. He intercepted the passing lanes and fought for lose balls. As for Dotson, this was the second straight game in which he displayed a refreshing amount of confidence. Despite being a second round draft choice, he already looks like belongs on an NBA hardwood.