Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
As the Knicks (4-17) prepare to host the Denver Nuggets (13-5) Thursday at Madison Square Garden in New York, here are several notes from Wednesday's practice.
With seven straight losses, the Knicks continue to search for their first win since Nov. 18's 123-105 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they should get a big boost in the lineup.
Marcus Morris should return for the Knicks against Denver after missing two games with a neck injury (more on that below). New York should also have Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina vs. the Nuggets.
Payton has been sidelined since the third game of the season with a hamstring injury. Ntilikina missed Monday's 132-88 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks with a back ailment.
So the Knicks could have a full roster Thursday for the first time since the second week of the season. Will that help them snap out of their skid? Morris said on Wednesday that one issue New York needs to work on is remaining calm late in close games.
"The last five minutes we get tight. We just got to let it go. We got to play together and let it go," Morris said. "Expectations is nothing. We're just putting too much pressure on ourselves to win games instead of just competing in games.
"If you do what you are supposed to do, the game will take care of itself. Once you get tight, since we've lost a lot of close ones down the stretch, we're kind of like 'We don't want to lose this one. We don't want to lose this one.' We can't be that way. We have to keep playing the same as we've been playing the entire game and let it fly, win lose or draw."
Ten of the Knicks' 17 losses have been by single digits. They've been blown out twice in the last four games, but have been competitive in most of their losses.
"Teams know that we've been playing hard. It's not like we're just laying down," Morris said. "... We're not packing it in. We're not doing anything like that."
Tough to watch
The Knicks watched tape of their 44-point loss to Milwaukee, a game in which they appeared to lack the fire and competitive spirit they've played with in the past.
Fizdale said the players held themselves accountable for the ugly performance. While in Milwaukee, Fizdale said that his players approached the game with the idea that they didn't have a chance to beat the Bucks, one of the NBA's best teams.
"Every guy in here owned it that we didn't come out with the correct mindset against a team of that caliber," Fizdale said. "No matter who we step on the floor against, up until that game, we believed we could beat anybody. So they said, 'Never again will we have that attitude going into a game, no matter who we're playing against.'"
Payton will probably come off the bench Thursday as he eases his way back into the lineup.
If Ntilikina isn't fully healthy, Dennis Smith Jr. could continue to start at point guard.
Fizdale said Wednesday that they needed to find out about Ntilikina's status before making a decision.
Morris' injury story
This is something parents of young kids can probably relate to: Morris said he hurt his neck prior to last Friday's 101-95 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers when his 1-year-old son jumped on him.
"Every morning, he comes in the room and jumps on me. You know, I just got the bad batch of it that morning, so I'm good now," Morris said.
He described his son as "huge for a 1-year-old."
After getting treatment for the past few days, Morris will be back on the court Thursday. He's been shooting 52 percent from beyond the arc thus far for New York.
And, yes, Morris' son will still be allowed to jump on him in the mornings.
"I've just got to be ready," Morris said with a smile. "He gets up at a certain time and I know he's coming. This particular morning I think I was just in a deep sleep or something and he got me. But it happens. I'd rather him do that than stay in his room."