SALT LAKE CITY — The Knicks were talking about practice, the importance of it, and how their schedule is making it difficult to get to the gym.
When you’re in a slump, you start searching for answers, and practice usually helps. But Derek Fisher also believes you don’t beat a team when it’s down.
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“You don’t force urgency,” Fisher said before the Knicks opened their three-game trip Wednesday night with a 106-85 loss to the Jazz, their seventh defeat in nine games. “You’re always as hungry and as urgent and as greedy for success as you were last week. Sometimes you lose some games. That doesn’t mean you have to spend 10 more hours in the gym. You just have to do some things better.
“Do our guys understand we don’t like to lose? They understand that. Running suicides [running drills] and punish guys for losing some games — I don’t think it’s necessarily the way to approach it.”
The Knicks are playing three games in four nights, following a stretch of three in four, so Fisher opted not to practice before flying to Utah. For now, the Knicks are trying to clean things up in the film room and in shootarounds and walk-throughs.
A point of emphasis against Utah was getting back to starting games better. That didn’t happen, and the Knicks (10-13) trailed 29-11 after a quarter.
The Knicks led or were tied after the first quarter in nine of their first 13 games. They trailed after one in six of their past 10, including the last three. “Anytime you have to play from behind you kind of get in desperation mode,” Carmelo Anthony said. “We can’t play like that.”
After the Knicks played abysmally in the first 12 minutes Wednesday, the Jazz led 49-18 in the second quarter. Fisher said the slow starts are because of “some growing pains,” but the Knicks know they have to get it out of their system quickly.
“It’s never easy to become a team,” Fisher said. “We feel like we’re better. We’re still developing and we’re still growing. It doesn’t quench the fire to win and to want to win every time you’re out there. We’re still developing at a level where we can perform at an elite level every night.”
More than a quarter of the season is gone, and with Kristaps Porzingis developing into a legit Rookie of the Year candidate and future franchise player, the Knicks have a chance to make the playoffs. But that’s if they right their wrongs in an improved Eastern Conference.
“If you lose a couple games, you look at the kind of things you can do better and start tightening up, and the only way you can do that is in practice,” Anthony said before the loss to the Jazz. “When you don’t have that practice time, you start thinking about that. It can start seeping in.
“So right now we just got to go with it. We got to get better in the games right now and use the game as an experience and kind of figure things out on the fly until we get that gym time.”
Despite being frustrated after Monday’s loss to Dallas, Anthony is optimistic this group eventually will play better and with more consistency. He said everybody is willing to listen and offer suggestions in team meetings.
“There’s no egos on this team. Everybody works hard, everybody puts their work in, and everybody tries to figure it out together. As far as everybody caring and wanting to win and doing the right thing to win, this group is top notch with that.”