GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- At 32-20, the Knicks still lead the Atlantic Division. But their play clearly is off the boil after a hot start; they enter Sunday night's game against Philadelphia on a four-game losing streak and 14-15 stretch of mediocrity.
So while this is no time for panic, it does bring to mind the feather duster that Hall of Fame St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca kept in his office. Carnesecca had been given a card by his predecessor, Joe Lapchick, that said, "Peacock today, feather duster tomorrow." He understood how, in sports, "One day you're on top of the world, the next day you're on the floor."
The Knicks, coach Mike Woodson said, "have just got to keep playing." In Friday's 100-98 loss at Toronto, "we didn't capitalize on the penalty. We didn't get to the free-throw line like I thought maybe we should have. I just didn't think we played smart down the stretch."
Woodson can live with missed shots like the three-point attempt by Carmelo Anthony that would have tied the score in the final seconds. "As a coach, I want the ball in my best player's hands," he said. "It's OK for him to take that shot; he's done that for us this season.
"I mean, it happens . . . There's been games where we've made those big shots, what I call home run shots that secured the wins for us, but [Friday night], the home run shots didn't go. So as a coach, I'm thinking, 'We've got to utilize the free-throw line.' When you get into the penalty, you've got to put it on the officials to blow the whistle, and I thought we didn't do that."
Whether Woodson might fiddle with his starting lineup, which has been unchanged through the last nine games, or his rotation of players off the bench is "a possibility," he said. "We'll see."
Notes & quotes: After Saturday's workout, Anthony flew to Syracuse to attend the halftime retirement of his college No. 15 during the Syracuse-Georgetown game.