The Knicks latest loss looked familiar. It was another come-from-behind effort that ended in the opponent taking the win, and for Jeff Hornacek, it's getting old.
New York put together an admirable 24-5 fourth-quarter run that saw them tie the game up with seconds left on the clock. But Skal Labissiere killed any hope the Knicks had with a dagger three in the corner to take a 102-99 lead with 2.6 seconds left.
"That's how you're supposed to play all the time," Hornacek told The Post's Marc Berman. "It's disappointing where they [think] they're at the point they can just show up and play the game."
Another heartbreaking loss ran the Knicks' total to 40 on the season, and this game came after a rout to the Clippers 128-105 in L.A. They have just one win in their last 13 games, which is why Hornacek needs to see more than just playing hard from his group.
"Some of the guys think they're playing hard," he said. "I'm sure the guys are saying, 'I'm playing as hard as I can.' There's playing hard and playing with desperation and doing what it takes to win. That's an internal thing. If you want to be in this league and be great, that's what you have to do and not just do it when you're down 15 points."
After a Zach Randolph technical, Courtney Lee went to the free throw line to bring the game within two. However, the Knicks' best shooter from the charity stripe missed it. Trey Burke heaved a shot at the buzzer to try and force overtime, but couldn't make it fall.
The Knicks know that playoffs are out of reach, and Hornacek also knows that this could kill the sense of urgency for a team late in the season. But just going through the motions isn't going to cut it, especially for players looking for a new contract, or staying up on the NBA bench.
Players like Michael Beasley, Emmanuel Mudiay, and even Kyle O'Quinn, who can test free agency if he wishes to opt-out of his deal after the season could be on Hornacek's mind. Beasley has been slumping of late, and Mudiay is still trying to get acclimated to his new team.
"All I can say in the locker room is you're capable of doing it," Hornacek said. "But it's not easy. The floating through things. OK, we're not in the playoffs but we still have to play with a sense of desperation every time we're out there. These guys have opportunities to go out there and show the league what they can do. A lot of guys have been bench guys on another team or in the G-League. You got to take advantage of opportunities when you have them."