Another disappointing loss on Friday, which Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek said the team "should be embarrassed" about, led to a practice that ran three hours on Saturday.
The Knicks, embroiled by controversy off the court and inconsistent play on it, have now lost four games in a row. Hornacek told reporters after the extended practice that maybe the extra effort is what this team needs to turn things around.
"Maybe it's putting them out of their comfort zone in practice, really pushing them, really telling them to get up, they may foul each other, but they have to get that mentality of how hard they can go, Hornacek said, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. "Breaking through that ceiling of what they think that is, and what their level can be, is what us as coaches need to do."
Hornacek told reporters he didn't say much to the team after the latest loss on Friday, but he believes the group understands his level of frustration.
"I think they know [how upset I was]," Hornacek said. "I hope they're as mad about it, too. It's not about us scoring. We got to get these stops and there's a difference between playing defense and just playing defense and really getting after it like your life depends on it."
When Jeff Hornacek initially accepted the Knicks' head coaching job, the hope and respective goal was to compete. The team's revamped roster suggested they could do so. The front office made the types of investments that suggested they were no longer going to wait to win.
Despite all the changes, the results are actually worse than they were at this point last year. Coach Hornacek certainly isn't a defensive maven, but no team should be giving up 131 points to the Nuggets. No team should score 123 points and still end up losing.
The coach has done some great things with this team offensively. He's also been strong at making adjustments, both out of timeouts and when it comes to necessary lineup changes as well. He's not the problem. While it may be the coaching staff's responsibility to motivate the players, it shouldn't be this difficult.
The blame shouldn't be placed on Hornacek's shoulders. Even so, it may be to his advantage that he's the fourth head coach (including Kurt Rambis' interim stint) in as many seasons. The Knicks cannot afford to continue ushering in and out new coaches, regardless of how poorly this team is struggling. At some point, the organization has to look in another direction for a solution to their problems.
Consider this most recent attempt by Hornacek to really light the fire under his players as one of the last ditch efforts he has to motivate this team. Sooner than later, it will have become too late. New York is approaching that point. Time is running out and decisions on the direction of this campaign need to be made.
Hornacek is hoping his team can turn it around because that's what the front office is hoping to do -- compete. As the losing continues around failed trials of veteran lineups, things will need to come to a head. As an organization, this team will be better suited embracing a youth movement relatively soon. What they've done hasn't worked. But alas, Hornacek is giving this chance to push his team one more try.