PHOENIX — Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose want to play off each other more, and they think it will make the Knicks more dangerous.
The Knicks are running more pick-and-rolls than ever in the two-plus years Phil Jackson has been team president. But they’re not running it as much with Rose and Anthony. That could be a lethal combination since they’re two of the best pick-and-roll players in the league.
Rose, who left Tuesday night’s game against the Suns with a recurrence of back spasms, believes Jeff Hornacek will go to that soon enough, forcing teams to adjust.
“Jeff is an old-school coach, so he’s not going to throw everything at you right away with his plays,” Rose said before the Knicks faced the Suns last night. “He really didn’t go into most of his plays that he ran here when he was in Phoenix. He didn’t even go into his full repertoire because he’s waiting for later on down the line giving teams something new to look at.”
Hornacek, who returned to Phoenix for the first time since being fired as coach 10 months ago, continues to make changes to the offense and the rotations.
He’s running less triangle, and pushing the Knicks to play faster. Hornacek wants the offense to have balance and be diverse. But he’s giving Rose and fellow point guard Brandon Jennings the freedom to call plays based on what they see from the defense.
It’s worked thus far. The Knicks won the first two games on this western trip and 11 of 15 heading into last night’s game.
Rose, a former MVP, and Anthony, a one-time scoring champ, are the most accomplished players on the Knicks and have played well this season. They believe they can be even better, and it would benefit the Knicks if they were involved in more two-man action together.
“I think me and Derrick are still trying to figure out ways to take advantage of what defenses are doing out there,” Anthony said. “I don’t think we play together on the offense as much as we should.”
Hornacek, who is proving to be a player’s coach, agrees with Anthony. Hornacek said the Knicks have run the Rose-Anthony pick-and-roll combo and intimated it would happen more.
“Most of the times, Car melo’s guy may stay home with him and that might open up Derrick,” Hornacek said. “If they step out and switch, then Carmelo’s got a smaller guy on him. I think that’s things we’ve done at times. When we get to the point where Carmelo says we can get better, he’s probably saying that we can really take advantage of those situations.”
Rose said more “1-3 pick-and-roll” between the point guard and the small forward could open things up for everyone.
“We rarely do that,” Rose said. “Teams in this league, you look at everybody that has a great 1-3, they do that a little bit throughout the first half. But the fourth quarter, they go through that a lot, just to make the [defensive] team make the decision. It’s like picking your poison. It’s something we’ve touched on a little bit but not that much.”
Rose believes that’s what makes the Knicks tough to guard and prepare for. They have a lot of weapons and options at their disposal, and they’re not a finished product yet.
“We’re just getting used to each other,” Rose said. “As long as we’re on the court, we’ll figure it out.”