New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose shoots against the Houston...

New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose shoots against the Houston Rockets during the first half of an NBA game Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016, in Houston. Credit: AP / Bob Levey

Derrick Rose believes the Knicks take their ability to score for granted sometimes, and that coach Jeff Hornacek should stress defense so much that the player can’t stand hearing it anymore.

It’s no secret that defense has been the Knicks’ greatest weakness this season. Rose, too, has had his share of difficulty keeping his man in front of him.

But Rose’s best individual and team success came when hard-driving Tom Thibodeau coached him with the Bulls. Thibodeau got everything he could out of each player and made playing defense mandatory.

“I played on teams where we couldn’t score the ball like we score the ball here,” Rose said. “When you have the privilege like we have to score the ball at ease, defensively we’ve got to make sure — coach has to make sure — he beats us in the head with defense all the time. We’ve got to be irritated by it.

“Offensively, I think we’re going to find our way to get better in areas on the floor, but defensively we have to come in like, we’ve got to be irritated by him talking about defense so much. That’s how I feel.”

Hornacek has been critical of the Knicks’ defense, especially lately. Early this week, Hornacek said he didn’t know if the Knicks had players “capable of” playing defense.

You could take that as Hornacek criticizing the roster Phil Jackson put together, and saying he needs different personnel or the coach was trying to light a fire under his players. If it doesn’t then Jackson should look to change the personnel.


The trade deadline is six weeks away, but the dealing has begun with Atlanta moving Kyle Korver to the Cavaliers for Mike Dunleavy Jr.

Atlanta also is said to be fielding calls for All-Star forward Paul Millsap. The Raptors, Kings, 76ers, Nuggets and Pelicans are reportedly among teams showing interest.

The sharpshooting Korver should be able to feast in Cleveland with all the attention LeBron James and Kyrie Irving get. James said the next thing the Cavs need to acquire is a veteran backup point guard. “It’s my last time saying it,” James said. “We need a point guard.”

Cavs GM David Griffin probably got the message. Rajon Rondo could be available.

Meanwhile Celtics president Danny Ainge said he has received a number of calls for the Nets’ No 1 pick that Boston owns and he’s “exploring” what’s out there.

Since the Nets have the worst record in the league, that’s going to be a very valuable pick and could be used in a package to add a veteran that makes Boston a legit contender.


Nuggets coach Mike Malone, a former Knicks assistant, said his team has “the worst defense in the NBA” after giving up 120 points to the Kings.

Playing defense has become a lost art. Heading into the weekend, only four teams were allowing fewer than 100 points per game. Comparatively speaking, only one team gave up 100 points per game during the 2000-01 season.

The truth is less defense is being played all around the NBA. The season hasn’t reached the midpoint and already eight players have scored at least 50 points, matching the record from the 1989-90 and 2015-16 seasons. They are Jimmy Butler, James Harden, Isaiah Thomas, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and Klay Thompson.


Mike D’Antoni considers Harden one of the better point guards he’s ever seen. Remember, D’Antoni coached Steve Nash.

Harden has become even more difficult to guard this season since D’Antoni has put the ball in his hands and let him run the pick-and-roll heavy offense. Nash won two MVPs playing under D’Antoni. Harden, who is averaging 27.9 points and a league-best 11.9 assists, is a leading candidate for MVP thus far.

The Rockets have won 18 of 20, playing fast and open with three-pointers flying at will. D’Antoni, the former Knicks coach, helped bring this fast-paced style to the NBA with the Suns. The Warriors and now the Rockets have taken it to another level.

“We were kind of tiptoeing in Phoenix,” D’Antoni said. “We didn’t know what we’re doing in a sense there’s no one out there saying you can win like that. We’d shoot 30 threes and you go ‘That’s too many.’ And we’re like, ‘Maybe it is. Maybe we need to post up.

“Since the dawn of analytics and Golden State and showing what you can do, we pushed the envelope, which we probably could have done that in Phoenix and we could have been even better.”


Giannis Antetokounmpo has quickly climbed the ladder to elite player status. His performance Wednesday at the Garden, including the game-winning shot at the buzzer, just proved the Bucks have something special.

This week, the supremely skilled Antetokounmpo, nicknamed “The Greek Freak,” became the first Buck to grace the Sports Illustrated cover since 1982. In the article, Antetokounmpo discusses the first time coach Jason Kidd benched him. Upset, Antetokounmpo looked up Kidd’s resume on his phone and realized he was being coached by a legend.

“I saw Rookie of the Year, NBA championship, USA Olympic gold medal, second in assists, fifth in made threes, blah, blah, blah,” Antetokounmpo told SI. “I was like, ‘Jesus freaking Christ, how can I compete with that? I better zip it.’ ”


* If everyone votes objectively — the fans, the players and the media — two-time reigning MVP Steph Curry probably wouldn’t start in next month’s All-Star Game. Harden and Russell Westbrook should be the West’s starting backcourt.

* 76ers rookie Joel Embiid has been lobbying on Twitter and in interviews to be voted on the All-Star team. Embiid he thinks making the team would help his odds of dating a girl. Reportedly, his “crush” is singer Rihanna. Embiid is the front-runner for Rookie of the Year. Embiid said that would be great, “but I don’t think it’s going to help me get my crush.”

* Bulls guard Dwyane Wade missed a game this week with knee soreness. When a reporter asked when the knee soreness started, Wade responded, “About 14 years ago.”

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