Derrick Rose is slow in picking up the Knicks’ offense because he missed more than two weeks of practices and games, but he sounds as if he misses Chicago more.
After the Cavaliers blasted the Knicks, 117-88, on opening night, Rose became the latest Knick to say he’s not comfortable in the triangle offense and that they’re soft in the middle defensively. When he was with the Bulls, they were known for defense and were successful with Rose being the focal point of the offense.
“I want pick-and-roll every time down,” Rose said after his 17-point, one-assist performance on Tuesday night.
New coach Jeff Hornacek’s plan is to implement more pick-and-rolls, especially since he has three players who should thrive: Rose, Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. Hornacek even said Joakim Noah, who was scoreless in his Knicks debut, will get a lot of his points rolling to the basket.
That didn’t happen in the Knicks’ first game. It was the first time their starting unit played together in a game, and that lack of familiarity showed.
They missed 31 of 44 shots in the second half and got nothing from starting shooting guard Courtney Lee (0-for-5, zero points).
Overall, the Knicks looked stagnant and uncomfortable playing together and in a system that hasn’t worked well when Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal weren’t running it.
“You see with Cleveland, they run pick-and-roll the entire game and [create] mismatches and closeouts, and them driving the ball and making someone else commit and pitching out for a three,” said Rose, a former league MVP. “That’s something we have to keep doing.”
Anthony, who is tired of talking about the triangle and said he doesn’t even like saying the word, thinks listening to Rose would be a wise move.
“We want guys to feel comfortable with who they are,” Anthony said. “We don’t want to try to change anybody’s game. If Derrick feels comfortable being up there in high pick-and-roll, that’s his game, you can’t take him away from that. You want to utilize guys’ strengths. That’s who he is, that’s who he’s always been. We want to rely on that. We don’t want to take that away.”
Rose was away from the Knicks for 16 days for his civil sexual assault trial and missed nine practices, five preseason games and four shootarounds. Rust was expected, but he said he felt good about his ability to get to the rim. He just wished he could finish better.
The Cavaliers had no trouble finishing. LeBron James got to the basket whenever he wanted and finished with six dunks. Rose said the Knicks have to “put people down” and not allow easy baskets without a hard foul.
The Knicks were off Wednesday but have two more days to work on the offense and defense before their home opener Saturday against Memphis.
Rose hopes he can start to figure out where he can be effective, but he said standing in the corner and waiting for the ball to come to him contributed to his lack of assists.
“In the triangle sometimes, you’re going to the corner,” Rose said. “As the point guard, that’s tough sometimes going all the way to the corner and kind of waiting to see what they’re going to do on the initial side of the triangle. You have to wait for the ball to come back to you.
“I got to find a way. There’s no way around it. I got to find a way, and I’m going to find a way. That’s what being great is all about.”