GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Here's how Knicks center Joakim Noah assessed his play through the first 11 games of the season:
"There's still things I feel like I need to do a lot better. I'm not happy with where I am right now. I feel like I can definitely play better, but I'm not going to get frustrated with the process. I'm giving everything I've got and looking forward to being better with this team, but not being frustrated with the process."
They allowed a Washington team that ranked 30th in 3-pointers made per game to hit 15 of 25 3s in a game that was rarely close. It was another example of the Knicks not showing up on the defensive end. New York entered play Saturday ranked 29th in defensive efficiency. Some point the finger at Noah, who was signed to be a backbone for the club's defense, as a culprit.
But coach Jeff Hornacek said Saturday that he's happy with what he's seen from Noah so far. He dismissed the idea that Noah's minutes per game (24) were a reflection of poor play.
"We don't really look at how many minutes (he plays), like, 'Oh, we have to keep him to this number (of minutes) for the long haul," Hornacek said. "We just look at it as, 'Does he have the energy out there? Are the other guys doing well? Can we go to a small lineup a little bit?' So I think he's doing great."
The Knicks have gone with smaller lineups for long stretches of some games, putting Kristaps Porzingis at center. That leaves Noah on the bench. It seems this is something Hornacek will continue to go to as the situation dictates.
Blaming Noah alone for the Knicks' defensive struggles seems unreasonable. There are five players on the floor and Noah can't be held accountable for all of his teammates' mistakes.
And New York's on-off numbers don't support the idea that Noah's play is the most glaring issue for New York on defense.
The Knicks are allowing one more point per 100 possessions with Noah on the court than when he's off, per NBA.com. But their offensive efficiency is 13 points better when he's on the floor and their net rating is plus-1.4 when he's on the court and minus-11 when he's off the court. Should he be impacting the defense more than he has? Absolutely.
No one would say that publicly, of course. But Noah seems like a prideful player who knows that he can do more.
"I'm trying to figure it out. There's no question. It's been really up and down," he said. "I think that's kind of like my role on this team. Some nights it's going to be my night, sometimes it's not, but at the end of the day I just have to be consistent with my effort and be consistent and try to bring something positive to this team."
Noah figures to get plenty of playing time Sunday against Dwight Howard and the Hawks. He hopes for a better result and believes it's important that he and his teammates don't allow frustration to permeate the locker room.
Carmelo Anthony doesn't believe the team has been overcome by frustration or has showed any signs of fracturing.
"Twelve games into the season? Oh, hell no. Nobody better not (have their) heads down and talking about not being optimistic about what we're trying to do, what we're trying to accomplish," Anthony said. "Guys come here every day and work hard, trying to figure this thing out on the fly. We believe it's going to get better, but sometimes we've got to go out there and make it better and establish what we want to do on the court."
He added: "I'm not going to jump the gun and say everything is all bad. We're 12 games into the season. We all knew it was going to take some time as far as jelling and figuring things out and guys getting used to one another. It's just some things, some foundational things that we have to establish. Some games it's there, and throughout the course of some games it's not. It's a consistency thing. It's something we have to work on."
Courtney Lee also believes the Knicks are on the same page despite the early-season struggles. The club faces a tough three-game homestand against Atlanta (9-3), Portland (7-7) and Charlotte (8-3).
"No matter how frustrating and upset guys are, we're all in here going to continue to work because the only way to go from here is up," Lee said. "We're going through that adversity right now. Rather go through it earlier than later, so once we get it and we move forward and look back on this, it's something we've got to grow from."
Risky move with Randle: Hornacek told reporters earlier this week that the Knicks would not sign Chasson Randle from their D-League roster unless a player got hurt. One D-League exec predicted before the season that Randle wouldn't spend much time in the D-League and would be signed to an NBA roster quickly, so the Knicks are risking losing Randle to another team with this approach.
Rosy outlook: Derrick Rose has been fairly consistent early in the season. He's averaging 15.8 points per game and 4.8 assists, with a higher shooting percentage and fewer shot attempts per game than last season. Most import for Rose, he's remained healthy.
"I think physically he's moving really well, better than he has in a long time," Noah said Saturday. "I think it's also an adjustment for all of us just in terms of the offense, the defense, playing with new players. But overall, I think he's confident and he's playing at a high level."