The New York Knicks have a growing sense of urgency as a five-game road trip arrives. It couldn’t come at a more necessary time.
The New York Knicks will play the next five games away from Madison Square Garden. The extensive road trip will be the ultimate test for a Knicks team that’s been as erratic away from home as it has been brilliant at The Mecca.
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With a 9-4 record at home and a 3-6 mark on the road, the Knicks’ five-game road trip could go a long way towards defining the trajectory of the 2016-17 season.
New York’s five opponents on this road trip all play in the Western Conference. Four of the five were written off as preseason non-contenders, but all five opponents are more than capable of defending their home turf.
“You go on the road — no wins are easy,’’ Hornacek said. “We have to come out with intensity every game no matter the opponent and go on the attack. I don’t know if we were tired, but at times Melo had a guard on him and we passed it away to the other side. That’s not playing smart. You got to play smart on the road.’’
The Knicks have been able to execute offensively on the road, but intensity has been elusive on defense.
New York will begin its five-game road trip with a rematch against the Sacramento Kings. The Knicks defeated the Kings 106-98 at home on Sunday, December 4 in one of their best defensive showings of the season.
Sacramento is coming off of a win over the Dallas Mavericks, however, and revenge will be on the agenda for a motivated team with an All-NBA center in DeMarcus Cousins.
Following the Sacramento game, the Knicks will travel to play the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, and Denver Nuggets. None of those games are guaranteed victories, with the Golden State game being an expected loss.
Beyond the Warriors, the Knicks could have trouble with the 10-14 Lakers, 6-16 Suns, and the 8-15 Nuggets.
Carmelo Anthony will likely be motivated to show out in the Denver game, as he’ll be returning to the team he spent his first seven-and-a-half seasons with. The Knicks will need to be motivated for every game, however, as a 12-10 record far from guarantees a postseason appearance.
Anthony knows how important it will be for the Knicks to start the road trip with a victory over the Kings.
“We want to win [out West],’’ Anthony added. “We want to start off on a good note. Get that first one on the trip against Sac.’’
Getting that early win could set the tone for a confidence-building and momentum-swinging stretch of five games.