Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Knicks Insist They're Not Playing the Lottery

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Knicks Insist They're Not Playing the Lottery

Article excerpt

When the fourth quarter began Monday night in Orlando, the Knicks were down seven points, they had just surrendered 38 points in the third quarter to the NBA's second-worst offense and Jeff Hornacek had Derrick Rose and Kristaps Porzingis take a seat on the bench.

With Carmelo Anthony already getting a night off -- a sore knee, not injured, he insisted -- Hornacek went with Kyle O'Quinn, who had been stuck to the bench all night, and little-used 24-year-old rookie Chasson Randle. So the tank is on, right?

It would certainly make sense. The Knicks are 51/2 games out of the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference playoff chase, sitting in 12th place, where they would need to jump three other teams just to get in range of that eighth seed. The Orlando game started a stretch of eight of 10 games on the road -- including the last four on a tough West Coast swing.

The Knicks are in Milwaukee on Wednesday night and then Detroit on Saturday -- both teams ahead of them in the playoff race, so theoretically it presents a chance to make up ground. But reality tells you that it's over even if the official word hasn't come down yet.

But the Knicks aren't, at least publicly, conceding. They speak boldly about playing to win, even though coming from behind Monday might be the worst thing that they've done of late -- two wins over Orlando in five days puts the Knicks three games ahead of the Magic now, or three games behind if you're talking about positioning for the draft lottery, which is really the only race the Knicks are still in.

Hornacek was asked about this after the loss to Golden State on Sunday, if the time was coming to sit his veterans and just measure out the younger players' skill sets.

"Well, I think we'll see when that time comes," Hornacek said. "I don't think anybody thinks now is the time. Guys are playing as hard as they can. If it gets to a point where we look at it and say let's get these young guys an opportunity, then we'll do that, but now we're still trying to win any game we can. …

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