Knicks C Willy Hernangomez has been a soild offensive contributor but knows he needs to improve defensively.
"I have to be way more focused on defense," Hernangomez said Saturday, according to Al Iannazzone of Newsday. "I think from the beginning of the season right now I improved my defense, but it's not enough. One of the biggest things I have to work this summer is going to be my defense so next year I can defend [centers] and [power forwards]."
Hernangomez scored a career-high 24 points on Saturday while grabbing 13 rebounds in 36 minutes. He is averaging 7.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in 63 games this season, during what is his rookie campaign.
Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek said Hernangomez needs to be more assertive, citing a couple of plays from Saturday night's game.
"There were a couple of plays that because he had two fouls he didn't want to foul," Hornacek said. "We told him, 'Hey you just got to go for it -- if you foul you foul.' That's all right. Other guys will step up. We never want to give up the easy bucket."
Kristaps Porzingis said he'll be a "critic" of Hernangomez because he wants him to be better, and that he's happy Hernangomez is out there with him playing on a regular basis.
With Joakim Noah suspended, Hernangomez is expected to play major minutes for the remainder of the season.
The Knicks, who are 27-46 and on the verge of being eliminated from postseason contention, have nine games remaining.