SALT LAKE CITY — The Knicks’ team bus already had departed the University of Utah’s Jon Huntsman Arena through the snow and cold an hour earlier when the door opened again Friday. Damyean Dotson and Trey Burke walked out, along with assistant coach Ross McMains, soaked from the long workday.
When the team took the court for the morning shootaround Saturday, they found the pair on the court again. The two spent an hour working on their shooting before the workout at Vivant Smart Home Arena.
There are plenty of reasons not to put the extra work in right now. The Knicks are on the second stop of a six-city, 14-day road trip, the sort of stretch that can wipe out far better teams. The Knicks — who trailed the Jazz 71-34 at halftime on Saturday night — are playing at elevation in Utah and Denver, a task that has players gasping for air at times.
But the better question might be: Why aren’t all of the Knicks putting in the extra work? They entered the Utah game with six straight losses, 11 losses in their last 12 games and a 9-27 record.
“I guess you’ve got to someway find that rhythm back,” Dotson said. “Sometimes you get complacent on the road. You go back to the hotel right after practice, come when shootaround starts. I talked to Trey about it. We shouldn’t get complacent. You have bad shooting nights. Don’t let that affect everything else. Just getting a rhythm back. I missed three games with my shoulder. Just trying to find that rhythm again and get back to the basics.”
Burke missed six games with a sprained knee and has struggled since his return, shooting 1-for-7 in his first game back and 2-for-9 the next, then sitting out three of the last four games and again shooting 1-for-7 in the one chance he got on Christmas Day. Dotson shot 1-for-9 Thursday in Milwaukee and has not seemed the same player since suffering a bruised right shoulder Dec. 12 in Cleveland.
After sitting out three games and shooting 6-for-11 in Philadelphia, he shot 1-for-4, 1-for-2 and 1-for-9. He is shooting 45.1 percent overall and 36.5 percent from beyond the arc.
“I wasn’t happy, of course not,” Dotson said of the struggles in Milwaukee, but he said he didn’t think it had anything to do with the shoulder, which still needs to be iced after workouts. “No, I think it’s all rhythm, because the Philly game I came out making shots.”
So he went back to work.
“Trey and Dot were in here an hour before we were in here this morning,” coach David Fizdale said. “But that’s the nature of our team. It really does make me happy to see that’s the kind of guys that we have.”
“You’ve got to get to sleep a little earlier on the road, balance sleep, balance rest,” Dotson said. “All that matters. It’s all worth it. It’s our job. It’s all part of the plan.”
With the game starting early locally — a 6 p.m. start in Utah — the Knicks were deciding whether to even hold a morning shootaround. But Fizdale opted to put them back to work.
“I just wanted to get in here, see the rims, get them moving a little bit more in this altitude, get them used to the air,” Fizdale said after the morning workout was over. “And like I said, for us I’m going to try to seek every opportunity to get better with our guys. So we had a little mini-practice and got ready for tonight.”