New York Notes: Hornacek, Baker, Point Guards, Allen, Russell, Okafor

The Knicks entered last season with high expectations but a midseason collapse partnered with a veteran team was the root of the team’s demise. With a younger team in place this season, head coach Jeff Hornacek does not expect the current Knicks to quit on the season if things get tough, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes.

Ball-dominant players such as Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose were not conducive to the Knicks’ offensive strategy. Free agency acquisitions Courtney Lee (who has been solid this season) and Joakim Noah did not perform to expectations. This season, however, Hornacek has a different vibe.

“Usually when you have an older team — veteran guys — and the losses start piling up guys have a tendency to go, ‘Okay, the season (is over),'” Hornacek said. “These guys are going to fight until the end of the season no matter what our record is. A lot of young guys, they know we’re working not just for this year, but for the next couple of years to get better at certain things. So there won’t be any quit in these guys.”

After back-to-back losses, the Knicks are 17-16, good for an eighth-place tie in the Eastern Conference with the Heat. Injuries to Tim Hardaway Jr., Kristaps Porzingis, and Enes Kanter have hindered the team at times this season. Yet, Hornacek feels the current crop is hungry and willing to compete, even through difficult circumstances.

Check out other news from the New York NBA scene below:

  • The Knicks‘ uncertain point guard situation was exploited in the team’s Christmas loss to the Sixers on Monday, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Veteran Jarrett Jack went 0-for-5 from the field while rookie Frank Ntilikina struggled on both sides of the ball. Conversely, Sixers backup point guard T.J. McConnell provided Philadelphia with a major boost.
  • Knicks point guard Ron Baker has taken an unconventional path to the NBA, Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders writes.  Baker was not heavily recruited out of high school and needed several productive seasons at Wichita State to get on several NBA teams’ radars. Then, Baker went undrafted and had to impress the Knicks in the summer league to earn an NBA opportunity.
  • Nets rookie center Jarrett Allen is trying to model his game after Rockets big man Clint Capela, Net Income at NetsDaily highlights. 
  • As both D’Angelo Russell (knee surgery) and Jahlil Okafor (conditioning) work to enter the Nets’ rotation, general manager Sean Marks’ remarks from last Wednesday put both men on track to return shortly after the New Year. Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets that Russell’s 7-to-8 weeks’ timetable after November 17 surgery puts him on track to return anywhere from January 5-12; Okafor was said to be about two weeks away, putting him on schedule to enter the rotation on the Nets’ upcoming homestand.

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