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Jeff Hornacek sees injuries as reason for Knicks’ collapse

Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek against the Grizzlies

Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek against the Grizzlies on Jan. 17, 2018, in Memphis. Credit: AP / Brandon Dill

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Would the remainder of the Knicks season be centered upon talk of lottery picks and the development of their young guards if they hadn’t suffered major injuries early in the season?

Probably not, according to Jeff Hornacek. When asked how he would characterize this season, the Knicks coach talked about how the team got of to a strong start before Tim Hardaway Jr.’s leg injury in early December.

Even without Hardaway, the Knicks managed to stay above .500 until late December when they began a six-game stretch of playing the majority of their games on the road. Since the start of that stretch, the Knicks have lost 20 of 27.

“We got off to a good start and the home games helped,” Hornacek said. “Then we get ready for that month of road games and Tim gets hurt. And so, the guys still battle. We can survive a little bit. But we couldn’t get over the hump on a lot of those games.

“He comes back and that’s a period of adjustment. He got his game back then Kristaps Porzingis gets hurt. Could we have continued that if we had stayed healthy with Tim and the confidence of winning on the road gets better? It’s hard to judge, but the guys have worked hard and I think it bodes well for the future.”

No progress on buyout for Noah

Time is running out for Joakim Noah to negotiate a buyout with the Knicks and be eligible for the playoffs.

The deadline for the exiled center to reach a buyout with the team is midnight Thursday, and as of Wednesday afternoon there hadn’t been much progress. Beyond this year, Noah has two years and almost $38 million remaining on his guaranteed contract. The Knicks reportedly have been unwilling to release Noah without getting significant money.

“There’s no update,” Hornacek said.

Noah hasn’t been with the team since getting into an altercation with Hornacek during a practice in January.

Mudiay gets in some extra running

Emmanuel Mudiay stayed after practice Wednesday to run sprints and improve on his conditioning.

“I think he’s got another gear he can go to,” Hornacek said. “We’ve seen bits and pieces of it. I think part of that is conditioning . . . He’s trying to get into that top type conditioning he can do that all the time.”

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