The New York Knicks will square off against Jeff Hornacek’s former team on Saturday, Jan. 21. A win over the Phoenix Suns could unite the locker room.
The New York Knicks are approaching a turning point in the 2016-17 NBA regular season. As the window to execute a turnaround decreases in size and opportunity, the Knicks have a chance to rally around the one non-player whom they’ve been able to consistently rely upon.
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On Saturday, Jan. 21, the Knicks will host the Phoenix Suns in an opportunity to secure head coach Jeff Hornacek a victory over his former team.
New York’s overtime loss to the Suns on Tuesday, Dec. 13 was the start of the Knicks’ downfall. New York entered the outing 14-10, but fell 113-111 in a game that saw Derrick Rose leave with a back injury and Kristaps Porzingis foul out in the midst of a career-best performance.
New York is now 19-25, meaning the Suns game led to New York going 5-15 over the course of 20 heartbreaking games.
Roughly six weeks after the losing stretch began, the Knicks will have an opportunity to right the ship against the team that pushed them down this losing path. A win over Phoenix could galvanize and unite the locker room as it attempts to stabilize what was once a promising season.
With a stretch of five road games in six total outings on the horizon, the Knicks will need to play as well as possible against coach Hornacek’s former team.
Hornacek coached Phoenix from 2013-14 to 2015-16. He led the Suns to a 48-34 record in 2013-14 and had them off to a 29-25 start in 2014-15 when the front office decided to blow up the core by trading Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas.
After owner Robert Sarver and general manager Ryan McDonough alienated the players and created unnecessary drama in the locker room, it was Hornacek who became their scapegoat.
Now in a somewhat comparable situation in New York, one can only hope that the players will rally around Hornacek instead of letting him take the fall.
Defeating Phoenix would give New York its second win in three games. More importantly, it’d display just how committed the players are to coach Hornacek and provide the locker room with an invaluable experience.
Every great team seems to have a story of a specific moment when selflessness and sacrifice became a part of the daily routine.