WASHINGTON — Scott Perry never said the word rebuild, but it was implied as the general manager talked about his expectations for the Knicks this season. The key word was patience.

Perry said the No. 1 objective was that the Knicks compete hard every night, and they improve defensively.

“I’m going to do the best job that I can,” Perry said before the Knicks’ 104-100 preseason loss to the Wizards on Friday night. “People want something that’s going to be sustainable. That to me is what’s important. And patience, if you’re going to build something the right way that’s going to be sustainable long term, you can’t cut corners.”

Perry signed a five-year contract to be the Knicks GM in July, so he can be patient. But the reality is the Knicks are in a rebuilding situation, and they hope the kids grow up quickly.

Their stated plan is to build around Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Willy Hernangomez and Frank Ntilikina. They have no proven go-to scorers and aren’t a very good defensive team, so there could be some long nights this season.

“We want to build the right way,” Perry said. “It’s like building a home. It takes time to establish that foundation. I’ve been around the league long enough and have enough experience that I’m comfortable and confident in that approach. So I’m not going to waver on that. We’ll be opportunistic . . . and just focusing on development and working hard and live with the results.”

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Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek understands the situation, that he may have to forsake wins for the development of the team. He cited Sixers coach Brett Brown, who has been guiding a rebuilding team for years

“Brett Brown has figured out a good way to do that,” Hornacek said. “It’s hard as a coach because you want to win. You understand the process you have to go through and you just try to not sacrifice what you’re trying to do to build just to win some games.

“Obviously, you want to win, but you got to find that balance. You can’t get frustrated. You got to keep the team going. When teams are going through that process, it’s hard but you got to stay positive with it.”

Perry, a longtime executive but first-time GM, has been impressed with the way Hornacek ran training camp and is coaching the team. He credited Hornacek for holding the players accountable and stressing defense.

“I felt in training camp he did a good job of doing that, getting his philosophy out there, getting that message out there,” Perry said. “So I’m looking forward to working with him and just learning more about what he does on the floor.

“The big thing is, is this team competing, playing hard, playing together, trying to defend each and every night? If we can do that, then we can live with the results. And then I think the fans will at least be able to see the direction we’re headed. That’s going to be key in establishing that direction or trend we’re headed as an organization.”

Notes & quotes: Enes Kanter led the Knicks with 16 points, and Hardaway had 15. Joakim Noah, in his first game since Feb. 4, had five rebounds and a block in 12 minutes . . . Hornacek gave Porzingis the night off to rest . . . Hornacek said Ntilikina, who stayed back in New York to get treatment on his bruised right knee, probably won’t play Sunday against the Nets, either. He’s shooting to play Monday versus the Rockets.