CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Joakim Noah is doing much more watching than playing, but he hopes to start making an impact.
The Knicks’ big offseason signing — four years, $72 million — played only 12 minutes in Saturday night’s 107-102 loss to the Hornets, none in the fourth quarter. That’s happened a few times this season as Jeff Hornacek has used Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez in crunch time.
The Knicks won the two games Noah missed with an undisclosed illness and beat the Hornets on Friday night with Noah sitting out the last 22:19. He was scoreless Saturday night for the fourth time this season.
Noah said he wants to play more but that it’s out of his control. “All I can control is my progress,” he said. “I need to play better, and I will. I need to stay working and whenever the team needs me, be ready.”
Longtime teammate Derrick Rose feels for him. “Jo’s a winner,” he said. “Of course it hurts when you want to be out there, you want to play. It’s not up to him, it’s up to Coach. If it was vice versa where it was someone like myself, I would be hurt. At the same time, I want to win the game. He has a great attitude. He’s still in the game, up cheering us, telling us what he sees on the floor.”
Hernangomez watched replays of his foul on Kemba Walker’s drive Friday night that led to a tying three-point play with 20.3 seconds left in regulation. Hernangomez didn’t think it was a foul because Walker created the contact.
“It’s my mistake,” Hernangomez said. “But for me it’s not a foul. He used my chest for contact. I know I’m a rookie. Next time I’m going to foul him hard before he takes the shot.
“Jeff always tells me this is a chance to learn. I learned that. It’s one game. We got the win. For sure, next time that’s not going to happen. I have to foul him hard before.”
The Knicks brought an 8-7 record into Saturday night’s loss to the Hornets, only the seventh time they have been over .500 since Phil Jackson’s first full season as team president. They started 2-1 in 2014-15 and then lost 35 of 38 games. Last season, the Knicks crept above .500 five times, the last time at 8-7. The Knicks’ high-water mark during the Jackson era has been two games above .500 at 8-6 last season.
Mr. Big Shot
No one has made more go-ahead baskets in the final five seconds than Carmelo Anthony since he joined the NBA in 2003. He made his 14th Friday night, two more than Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki and retired Laker Kobe Bryant.