GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Carmelo Anthony doesn’t want to make a big deal about one game, but on Friday, he twice said the Knicks will have more of a sense of urgency in Saturday night’s home opener. Sounds as if the season-opening 29-point loss to the Cavaliers on Tuesday night woke up the Knicks.
“It gives us a sense of urgency to want to get back on the court, just to show that game didn’t have any effect on us as a team,” Anthony said. “We’ll be a totally different team.”
The Knicks have nowhere to go but up after Tuesday night. They showed little resistance on defense and even less continuity on offense.
Coach Jeff Hornacek tried to clean things up during the last two days of practice and seemed to challenge his players to commit more to defense when they take the court against the Memphis Grizzlies. He said there was too much “bailout switching” on picks and not enough fight or extra work against the Cavaliers.
“It takes effort and determination, it takes some pride to get out there and say, ‘I’m going to stop that guy,’ ” Hornacek said. “We have to make sure we’re more aggressive.
“Defense has to be all five guys doing the right thing. Right now, we’re just playing, and not really taking that next level of ‘Who’s that player? What’s his strength? What’s his weakness? What can he do?’ It will come. It’s new in the season. Guys have to get used to that rhythm.”
Derrick Rose was brutally honest after the loss to the Cavaliers, saying the Knicks lacked toughness on defense and that he still wasn’t comfortable in the offense. Rose said the last two days of practice have made him more comfortable and that he understands he has to read and react. But he’s still upset about the Cleveland loss.
“Oh, yeah,” he said. “Not just because it was on national TV, [just losing] the way we did. We’re trying to figure things out. We’re still trying to find chemistry. We’re still trying to get set into the offense and figure out what we’re going to do with it.”
This will be Anthony’s sixth home opener as a Knick. He said there’s “nothing like” opening at the Garden.
“It’s our time to go out there and put that Game 1 behind us and move on and show the fans who we really are,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to create something on our home floor. We want to make it hard for teams to come here.”
Rose and Joakim Noah will play in their first home openers as Knicks, and it will be Rose’s Garden debut after being acquired from Chicago. He missed three preseason home games because of his sex assault civil case in Los Angeles. Rose called it just another game, but Anthony said the players have to calm down Noah, who is from Hell’s Kitchen.
“That’s who we got to control,” Anthony said. “We got to control his emotions. We got to make sure he meditates or something like that. He’s got to be calm. He’s very excited at this moment. It just goes to show you how much passion people have toward New York.
“He’s like a dog ready to get loose out there tomorrow night. I think the fans will enjoy that.”
Notes & quotes: Knicks legend Willis Reed, who will take part in Saturday night’s halftime ceremony honoring the team’s 70th anniversary, attended practice and likes the acquisitions of Rose and Noah. “[They] are going to be a tremendous help for our team,” Reed said. “They give us a lot of experience and maturity. Experience and maturity are what you need to win in the NBA.” . . . Among the other former Knicks expected for the ceremony are Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Bernard King, Dick Barnett, Larry Johnson, Allan Houston, John Starks and Kurt Thomas. Absent will be team president Phil Jackson, who was part of the Knicks’ only two championship teams.