Carmelo Anthony is even more tired of hearing and talking about the triangle offense than he was last season, but the Knicks continue to show they’re more averse to playing defense.
Six games into the season, they rank in the bottom five in points allowed (109.8), field-goal defense (46.4 percent) and three-point defense (37.9 percent). In their four losses, they are allowing 112.8 points per game and teams are shooting 47.9 percent.
When the Jazz beat the Knicks, 114-109, on Sunday at the Garden, it was the third time that they gave up at least 114 points. Utah, which scored 36 points in the fourth quarter, also became the latest team to feast on the Knicks by feeding them a steady diet of pick-and-rolls.
Coach Jeff Hornacek said the plan was to switch on the pick-and-rolls, but the Knicks looked confused and are giving up open dunks, layups and jumpers.
Even before that game, Courtney Lee said the Knicks needed to prepare by spending more time practicing against pick-and-rolls instead of working on — and ultimately defending — the triangle. Anthony agreed.
“That’s the way that the game of basketball is being played these days,” he said. “Regardless of if we want to admit to it or not, that’s the game of basketball. Everybody runs it. If you can figure out a way to stop that, then I think you can be successful in this league.”
Not everyone runs the pick-and-roll, including the Knicks, who don’t run it as often as their players want. Derrick Rose said after the first game, “I want pick-and-roll every time down.”
The Knicks didn’t run the triangle much in the preseason because Rose was away from the team for 16 days to attend his sexual assault civil trial. Since he’s returned, they’re focusing more on learning the offense that team president Phil Jackson brought to New York.
“At this point, I’m getting tired of hearing about the triangle,” Anthony said last week. “It’s just getting tired of hearing about it. We’re playing basketball. We’re figuring it out, becoming more comfortable with one another out there on the court, playing off of each other. Things are going well for us offensively right now. We’ve just got to get the defensive side of it.”
The problem, according to Lee, one of the Knicks’ best individual defenders, is that working on the triangle is hurting them when they have to defend teams that are running pick-and-rolls. Hornacek didn’t discount that possibility.
“I heard that he did say that it’s not a bad idea,” Lee said. “So I’m assuming next practice that we have, we’ll probably go over that.
“We need to practice doing it. The majority of the NBA is pick-and-roll offense, trying to get the defense shifting. The more we get used to it and the better we get at it, the better we’ll be in games at guarding it.”
The Knicks, who will face the Nets at the Garden Wednesday night, didn’t practice Monday. But when they get back in the gym Tuesday, defense needs to be a priority.
The three veterans who have played on good defensive teams — Lee with Memphis and Rose and Joakim Noah with Chicago — now are on a team that’s been one of the worst in the league through the first two weeks of the season.
Rose said the Knicks have been held back by a lack of communication on the court, not following the game plan and not adjusting quickly enough to what other teams are running.
“It’s all about building the chemistry where if one guy messes up, the other guy may have to give extra effort on that play to stop the ball and get that guy,” Rose said. “It’s all about covering each other.”
Gone and back. Rookies Willy Hernangomez, Maurice Ndour and Marshall Plumlee were assigned to the D-League so they could practice Monday. They were recalled afterward and will practice with the Knicks Tuesday.