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Jeff Hornacek happy to let Knicks make each other accountable

Head coach Jeff Hornacek of the New York

Head coach Jeff Hornacek of the New York Knicks looks on during the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden on Monday, Jan. 16, 2017. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Jeff Hornacek’s honest assessments of his team paint a negative picture of their mental state and willingness to work through their problems.

When Hornacek was asked about the Knicks looking as if they quit when they fell behind by 38 in the third quarter Sunday in Toronto, he said it was brought up to the players.

“It was mentioned by one of the coaches,” Hornacek said with a laugh before the Knicks’ 108-107 loss to Atlanta. “That stuff is constantly talked about. We’ve got to keep mentioning it and mentioning it. Maybe someday it’ll click. Our guys are trying. They get demoralized, I think, sometimes.”

After the Knicks were demoralized in Toronto, some players talked about holding each other more accountable. Hornacek is all for that because he said the players tune out the coaches sometimes.

“We say things in practice all the time, we get on them in the game with our thoughts,” Hornacek said. “Sometimes I think as coaches, it kind of goes in one ear and out the other. But when it’s your teammate telling you that, they tend to listen more.

“Most of the good teams do that. They’ve talked about it, and who are going to be those guys to kind of take that leadership on the court and get after each other? You can’t get after each other if they’re not doing it. That’s where I think that accountability within the team, as players, really helps.”

Kuzminskas suffers cut

Mindaugas Kuzminskas made his first start in place of injured Kristaps Porzingis and needed some medical attention himself after getting hit in the face by Kent Bazemore and suffering a lacerated right cheek in the third quarter.

The Lithuanian rookie’s right cheek and eye were cut up, but he returned in the third and scored nine of his 14 points after getting hurt. He joked that it might have affected him “in a good way: get more angry.”

“I’m really happy that I started the game,’’ he said, “but I’m really sad that we lost the game.”

Thomas out indefinitely

Lance Thomas is out indefinitely after fracturing his left orbital bone in Sunday’s game against the Raptors. Thomas is getting fitted for a mask and still needs to see a specialist. Hornacek said it could take about a week to get the mask.

When Chasson Randle fractured his orbital bone in the preseason, the Knicks said he wouldn’t resume full activities for three to four weeks. An update on Thomas could come Tuesday.


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