GREENBURGH, N.Y. - The day after a 41-point loss to the Boston Celtics, Mike Woodson said he's still the man to coach the Knicks.
"I think I'm up for the task," Woodson said Monday when asked about the challenge of turning the team around.
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Woodson's job security was a source of speculation early last week when the Knicks' losing streak reached nine games. Back-to-back blowout wins over the Nets and Magic, however, gave him a short reprieve. In fact, heading into Sunday's game against the Celtics, the talk in the locker room was all about how the team had gotten its mojo back and was starting to turn things around.
The Knicks, however, were so turned around against the Celtics that they looked positively dizzy. But as Woodson's team takes its 5-14 record into Tuesday night's game in Cleveland, his players again are showing their support.
"It's not his fault," Amar'e Stoudemire said. "We win together, we lose together as a unit. It's not his fault."
J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony also gave Woodson votes of confidence.
Woodson did get a bit of good news Monday when Tyson Chandler went through all drills except for those involving contact. Chandler suffered a displaced fracture in his right leg Nov. 5. The original timetable for his return was four to six weeks. Tuesday makes five weeks, and it now seems likely that it could take more than six. Chandler said after practice that he hopes to be back before Jan. 1.
"I'm very encouraged, because . . . it's a step closer to getting back out on the court," Chandler said. "I did very well today for the first time being back on the court."
Chandler said it has been tough to watch his team struggle while sitting on the bench.
"You know, I felt like we're turning it around in a positive direction with the two games before the last game,'' he said, "and obviously the last game was a disappointment because I thought we were going to put together a streak. But I feel confident in the guys turning it around."
Woodson also is confident that it will come together for his team, only 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Celtics in the anemic Atlantic Division.
Said Woodson: "I'm still the head coach. And I'm still going to push guys to play at a high level. Players have got to do their part as well. We can't have games like that. That's no fun for anybody."
Notes & quotes: Kenyon Martin, who has replaced Chandler in the starting lineup, sat out practice after missing the Celtics game with a sore ankle. He is listed as probable for Tuesday night and Woodson said he will start if he is available.
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