GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Phil Jackson and coach Jeff Hornacek huddled on a bench after practice Tuesday and talked about several topics, including what’s gone wrong with the Knicks.
The Knicks were humiliated at home by the Lakers Monday night, and their 18th loss in 24 games dropped them to 12th place in the East. But Hornacek said the Knicks’ president is in a Zen state as they try to find their way out of this mess.
“Who would be satisfied?” Hornacek said. “Everybody is looking for the answers and what we can do to get better. He’s trying to analyze it, I guess, and let us know what he sees.”
Jackson can’t be satisfied with where the Knicks are. A loss Wednesday to the Clippers, one of the teams with which the Knicks reportedly have had trade talks regarding Carmelo Anthony, and they’ll be a season-worst 10 games under .500.
“Phil’s a pretty calm guy,” Hornacek said. “We obviously talk about things that aren’t going well and what we need to do better, things that he sees. But I think he looks at it in a calming way. He’s not accusing guys of not doing this or that. He’s kind of stating what’s out there, how can we get better at it. Those are our discussions.”
Jackson didn’t speak to the media and didn’t address the team. But guard Courtney Lee said there was no need.
“At this point we don’t need any more pep talks,” Lee said. “We don’t need any more pats on the back or none of that stuff. It’s now or never. If you don’t realize that as a player, you’re in the wrong sport and you’re on the wrong team because we need it now.”
Jackson, who hasn’t spoken to reporters covering the team since Sept. 23, may not be showing his frustration. But Hornacek ripped his players after the Knicks fell behind by 27 to the Lakers. The players clearly are frustrated because they expected to be a contender, and they were routed Monday night.
“That effort was pretty bad, man,” Lee said. “Definitely got to apologize to the fans and everybody that spent their hard-earned money to come watch us play.”
Where Anthony will be after the Feb. 23 trade deadline remains the main topic, and it’s seeping into the locker room. Other Knicks believe they could be on the move, too. Considering how far the Knicks have fallen, Lee said he could understand if Jackson tries to shake up the roster and rebuild again by going after a higher draft pick.
“I can’t blame them,” Lee said. “I can’t blame them for thinking that. But I’m still confident in the group, man.”
Lee is still holding on to his belief that the Knicks can turn it around if they stay together, but he noted it has to be each guy playing harder and committing to defense.
“There’s definitely some frustration, but what are you going to do?” Lee said. “You can’t shut down. You have to use that frustration as fuel to motivate you to compete and try to change this thing around.
“We’ve been saying the same [expletive] all year. Now it’s time to do it. You can’t keep saying it and not do it. It means nothing. You got to do it.”
After the loss to the Lakers, Hornacek challenged the starters to play with more effort and said he would put them through tougher practices. They went about an hour and 20 minutes Tuesday, and Lee described it as “chippy.”
Lee said there were “multiple flare-ups” in the competitive practice. That showed him the players care, but he also said it has to translate onto the court.
“We got to play for each other on both ends of the court,” Lee said. “We got to start holding each other accountable.
“Coach is giving us the game plan. Coach is telling us what to do in practice, putting us in positions to understand what we need to do out there. It’s up to us to go out there and do it, and it’s also up to us to go out there and demand it from each other.”