Jeff Hornacek isn’t ready to remove Joakim Noah from the starting lineup and said he will stick with him for the time being.
Rookie big man Willy Hernangomez has played well with back-to-back double-doubles in his prior two games. But Hornacek likes him with the second unit.
He said Noah’s smarts and experience are more important than his stats. Noah, who didn’t play in the second half Saturday night because of a sore left hamstring, is averaging 5.1 points and 8.9 rebounds.
“Willy has obviously earned the minutes the way he’s played,” Hornacek said. “Kyle [O’Quinn has] had his stretches where he’s played really well. Jo, you can’t necessarily look at his numbers and think that [reflects] how he plays. Sometimes it’s just being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes it doesn’t show up on stats.
“We’re looking at it all the time. But right now I think Jo, especially when we start these games against these veteran teams, he’s got that veteran leadership. Billy and Kyle will come off that bench and do what they do.”
Hornacek said he would like to see more of the regular starting unit: Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Noah. Rose missed his fourth straight game with a sprained left ankle. That group is 13-15. All other starting units are 9-14
“I still think in the back of our heads we’re looking at that stretch when we had all our guys,” Hornacek said. “We played really well. Ever since then we’ve had guys in and out of lineups . . . So we’re trying to look at it during this stretch, but I think we’re going to stay that way for a little bit.”
LeBron a mentor to Beckham
LeBron James isn’t just a mentor to NBA players. He also considers himself one for Giants star Odell Beckham Jr.
“I just try to be a guidance to him,” James said. “Give him words of advice when he needs it, when he wants it. He knows he can reach out to me at any time and no matter what time and what the subject is, I just try to give him a piece of my knowledge. And it’s up to him however he wants to take it.”
KP’s got skills
Porzingis is excited he was chosen to compete in the Skills Competition during All-Star Weekend, and believes he has a chance to win it. They changed it last year to include big men against guards. Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns won it.
“A big guy like me, 7-3, participating in that skills challenge, it should be fun,” Porzingis said. “I’m just going to go out there freestyling. Hopefully don’t fall, trip. But it will be a lot of fun”
Porzingis was invited last year, but he chose not to take part. He’s the only Knick participant in All-Star Weekend this year. He also will play in the Rising Stars Challenge. Porzingis’ goal is to play in the All-Star Game. “I was hoping to be in all three events, maybe,” he said. “But I’m excited.”