Mike Woodson didn't look like a coach feeling any additional heat, and he sounded like one who firmly believes that a season he has called "kind of a disaster" will end with a playoff berth if he's allowed to finish the job.
Whether Woodson will stay remains a hot topic. But Carmelo Anthony defended him after the Knicks coasted to a 117-90 win over the Denver Nuggets Friday night at Madison Square Garden, ending their losing streak at three games.
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Anthony, who had 31 points and didn't play in the fourth quarter against his former team, said the Knicks still believe that Woodson can get them into the playoffs.
"We've got to help him," he said. "He's the coach, he has his focus, he has his game plan, his schemes, and we're the ones that have got to go out there and execute that. At the end of the day, we can't fight that. We've got to do it.
"Sometimes our inconsistency comes from not playing hard, not bringing the energy, not doing the little things on the basketball court to win. Some nights we do. Some nights we don't. But we've got to help him with that."
Anthony confirmed a report that he met with Garden executive chairman James Dolan after Wednesday night's loss to Portland. He didn't say whether it was about Woodson, calling it a "generic" conversation.
"It wasn't nothing serious," Anthony said. "Just talking. I had tea. He had tea. That's it. We didn't get into details about anything. It was just a conversation."
Anthony's support and more performances like this one might take some heat off Woodson.
The Knicks (20-30) erased a 10-point first-quarter deficit, shot 56.5 percent from the field and ran away from the Nuggets in the second half. In the final 27:17, the Knicks shot 32-for-50 and outscored Denver 80-48.
The Knicks are only two games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Woodson remains confident that they will reach the playoffs with him at the helm and says he's not worried about whether he'll get the chance.
"That's not my call," he said. "I am still the head coach of the Knicks and I proudly say that. And I still have a job to do. Do I think I'm the guy for the job? Absolutely I do. That's not ever going to change as long as I am the head coach of the Knicks."
This isn't the first time this season that rumors have swirled that he could be on his last legs. There also has been speculation and reports that Woodson is losing the locker room. But Anthony continues to play hard and the Knicks are playing with much more effort than they were earlier in the season.
"I'm the head coach of this team and somehow I've got to continue to push this team and get them to make the playoffs," Woodson said. "We're in it to win our division and that's somewhat slipping away from us right now, but we've still got to push to get in the playoffs."
J.R. Smith has been one of Woodson's biggest supporters, and he said he thinks his teammates feel the same.
"I believe so," he said. "It's kind of hard to tell. Of course, nobody wants to show their whole hand. I think guys really care about him. I think guys care about this team, care about winning. You can't point the finger at one person."
Amar'e Stoudemire had 17 points and eight rebounds off the bench for the Knicks. Smith added 13 points and Tyson Chandler had 12 points and eight rebounds. Raymond Felton, who was benched for the entire fourth quarter Wednesday night, had nine points and eight assists.
Ty Lawson led the Nuggets (24-24) with 24 points and seven assists. One-time Knick Wilson Chandler scored 17.
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