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Derrick Rose reveals what struggling Knicks starters ‘need’ to do

Knicks, Knicks starters, Knicks starting lineup

As the New York Knicks prep for their second matchup of the season with the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, apparently a good practice session on Sunday is providing some optimism internally. Take it from Derrick Rose, who spoke to the media after the session.

“With the first group, they were doing a lot of play sets moving the ball from one side to the other, finding each other, communicating, talking,” Rose said of his starting counterparts. “That’s what we need. Especially when we’re on the road, it’s going to be hard playing on the road, the environment’s going to be very hostile. You’ve got to be able to communicate and be on the same page when you’re in those loud environments.”

The road has, ironically, been the most comfortable place for the Knicks this season to date, with the team sporting a robust 5-2 record away from Madison Square Garden vs. 2-4 at home. So perhaps the passing and communication will actually serve them better in the confines of the Mecca.

The Knicks haven’t been passing the ball nearly as much as they should. The eye test shows that New York’s starters have often devolved their style of play into isolation basketball, resulting in the stagnation that saw the starting unit net just 12 points in the second half in Charlotte on Friday.

But the stats back it up as well. Despite having four capable ball handlers and passers in the starting lineup, the Knicks currently rank 22nd in the NBA in passes with 271.8 per game, per NBA Stats. While that’s not a guaranteed metric for success — three of the top-five teams in passing currently are below .500 — just watching the Knicks lately makes it abundantly clear that they need an infusion of ball movement to get things going.

The 6-8 Pacers are actually one of the teams toward the top of the passing standings (third, 312.9 per game). They come to MSG just under two weeks after Myles Turner eviscerated the Knicks in Indiana to the tune of 7-10 shooting from 3.

Rose acknowledged that some of the Knicks’ struggles at home this year could be attributed to teams always bringing their best shot to the Garden floor.

“Being in the city, with it being the Mecca of basketball, you want to have a good performance in the Garden,” Rose said. “It looks good on the resume when you can say that you went in the Garden, and not only that but you had people at the game to celebrate that with. So it’s a great feeling playing there. … On the road, of course, it hits different when you win games, you shut the crowd up, all that type of stuff if you’re into it.”

Hopefully the Knicks’ new and improved offensive approach can get a more welcoming reception from the Garden faithful, starting on Monday night.