Go big or go home?
That’s what Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek is pondering after Sunday night’s 100-96 victory over the Mavericks in Dallas.
When teams go small — as the Mavericks did, most notably with 6-5 Wesley Matthews effectively defending 7-3 Kristaps Porzingis down the stretch — should the Knicks go big?
“We have to figure out if going small against these teams is to our benefit,” Hornacek said after the Knicks improved to 4-14 on the road. “Or just powerball it.”
Hornacek was not referring to the lottery game. He meant sticking with the Knicks’ effective big men, which on Sunday included Porzingis, Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn.
Porzingis scored 29 points but shot just 9-for-25 as Matthews defended him physically and aggressively, leading to a fourth-quarter verbal tussle between the two.
Kanter and O’Quinn had their way inside with the rebuilding Mavericks. Kanter finished with 13 points and 18 rebounds and O’Quinn had 15 points and 11 boards. Willy Hernangomez made a second-quarter cameo (two points in 6:18).
“I thought we did [powerball it] with Enes and KO,” Hornacek said. “Billy, he got in there. Our centers — KO and Enes — provided us, what, 29 points and 28 rebounds? Something like that. So we have to look at that and as we’re moving forward say, ‘Hey, when a team goes small, we’ll just bullyball.’ ”
Powerball, bullyball, whatever you’d like to call it. Even if Hornacek was off a little bit on the final numbers, the only number that counted was the Knicks’ 19th win. “That would have been pretty heartbreaking if we didn’t win this game,” said Porzingis, who also was guarded on at least one possession by 6-foot guard J.J. Barea.
After the Knicks went ahead 90-77 with 4:49 remaining, the Mavericks tied the score at 92 with a 15-2 run before Jarrett Jack broke a 94-94 tie with a driving floater off a nice screen from Porzingis.
“They just came back in the game again and again,” Porzingis said. “They kept it close and at the end they made some good plays and some good shots and tied the game. We stayed calm, executed offensively and at the end we got a stop defensively.”
Porzingis was frustrated by his inability to score while shooting over Matthews. Hornacek was frustrated with what he thought were non-calls on Matthews’ aggressive defense.
“I should have done things a little better,” Porzingis said. “I felt like against him, I should have got to the free-throw line a lot more when he was on me. There was some things that I can do better. We wanted to use that mismatch right away and I’m so mad that I missed a couple of shots over him that I have to make. In general, we want to use that right away and we don’t want to let them be able to put a small guy on me. We have to do something about it.”
Michael Beasley, who missed the game with a sprained left ankle, said he plans to return Wednesday against the Bulls. “One hundred percent,” he said. “Well, not 100 percent. But I’m definitely hoping.”
Interest in Burke?
Yahoo Sports reported that the Knicks are in talks to sign G League guard Trey Burke, 25. They currently have no roster spot available and would have to trade someone or waive a player with a guaranteed contract to sign Burke. Point guard Ramon Sessions, who is out of the rotation, is a candidate.
The Knicks signed Burke during training camp and ultimately inked him to their G League team. He has averaged 26.6 points, 5.4 assists and 1.9 steals in 26 games with Westchester.
Burke was the ninth pick in the 2013 NBA Draft out of Michigan, where he was a teammate of Tim Hardaway Jr. He has averaged 10.6 points and 3.6 assists in 267 games with the Jazz and Wizards. His best season was his rookie year, when he averaged 12.8 points and 5.7 assists with Utah.
Hiatus for Dotson
The Knicks assigned Damyean Dotson to the Westchester Knicks to participate in the NBA G League Showcase Wednesday to Saturday in Mississauga, Ontario. He is to rejoin the Knicks after the showcase..