On a Sunday matinee at the Garden, the New York Knicks scored 109 points against a rugged, athletic Utah Jazz defense but couldn't contain Gordon Hayward (28 points) and George Hill (23 points) en route to a 114-109 defeat. New York is 2-4 on the season, and not once have they held an opponent under 100 points.
It seems pretty clear what the problem is here: not enough triangle offense!
If that answer surprises you, then clearly you haven't been following the ramblings of Knicks team president and triangle zealot Phil Jackson. Though the team has only played six games under new coach Jeff Hornacek, the Zen Master has already let it slip that he is displeased with the lack of triangle sets they have been running, per Ian Begley:
"Phil Jackson hasn't been pleased with the New York Knicks' performance on offense—particularly with the amount of times the team has run the triangle offense—during their 2-4 start, league sources told ESPN."
Jackson supposedlyhad given Hornacek the freedom to run his own offense when the former Suns coach was hired last summer, and while the Knicks have run some triangle sets out of dead-ball situations, they have been more focused on utilizing a faster pick-and-roll attack. Have they been getting results? Consider the following:
- The Knicks rank 13th in offensive rating at the moment, and have been trending sharply upward over their past two games. They never finished in the top half of the league during Jackson's first two full seasons in charge.
- Kristaps Porzingis, the franchise's future, is averaging 18.8 points per game on a magnificent .613 true shooting percentage. He has been one of the best offensive players in the NBA so far by nearly every metric.
- The starting five of Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, and Courtney Lee have been one of the most efficient offensive units in the league.
New York's real problems stem from their defense—dead last in the NBA in defensive rating—and incredibly weak bench. Clearly Hornacek needs to do a better job coaching up the defense and staggering minutes among his starters to avoid toxic all-bench lineups. But the offense? That's humming along just fine at the moment.
So please, Phil, enough with the triangle talk. Carmelo Anthony is sick of hearing about it. We're all sick of hearing about it.