The Knicks’ coaching staff had been telling Brandon Jennings to be more aggressive. They wanted him to make things happen and not be afraid to take open shots.
At the team shootaround Sunday morning, coach Jeff Hornacek spoke with Jennings and got a solid feeling that he was about to turn the corner.
“He gave us a big lift. I saw it this morning,” Hornacek said after watching Jennings score a season-high 19 points in the Knicks’ 106-98 win over the Kings on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. “I told my wife that Brandon’s going to have a great game today. He said some things in the morning about taking a shot at shootaround, so I knew he was going to be good.
“It allowed us to play him and Derrick [Rose], and when things got close there, we just kind of spread them out on each side of the court. And he got a layup, I think, and got us a couple of baskets when we real ly needed them.”
Jennings had 19 points in 25 minutes and shot 5-for-7. He also hit all seven of his free throws. Contrast that with his previous seven games, in which he averaged 5.4 points and shot 16-for-46.
Jennings said he came to the Garden early in the morning before the Knicks’ shoot around to get in extra work.
“I felt good coming into tonight’s game. I was just trying to create and make something happen,” he said. “Everybody tells me to take my shots and be more aggressive, and I felt like I was today.”
Rose said that when he and Jennings are playing well together, they can cause problems. “It’s hard for the defense where me and Brandon play off the ball,” he said. “Brandon is a knock-down shooter and he’s good at creating. I’m good at creating. It’s our job to attack and make them make a decision. It’s really pick your poison.”
Notes & quotes: Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle O’Quinn each had four blocks against the Kings. Porzingis blocked five shots and Joakim Noah blocked four in the Nov. 28 loss to Oklahoma City. Before that, according to Elias Sports Bureau, the Knicks had only two games since 2000 in which two players blocked at least four shots each . . . In his first game after missing two with a sore ankle, Noah had a few tussles with Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins and managed to get under his skin a few times, including once when they each drew a technical. Said Noah: “Boogie’s tough, no question. He acts like he’s your friend one minute, then one minute he gets a tech. He’s an emotional roller coaster.” . . . The Knicks flew to Miami yesterday afternoon for tonight’s game against the Heat and did not practice.