GREENBURGH, N.Y. - There was a lot of talk about "spacing problems" at Knicks practice Thursday.
This, of course, is just a nice way of saying that there are players in the Knicks' offense who are not where they are supposed to be and not doing what they are supposed to be doing. It's a way to talk about a problem without naming names. It also might be an attempt to take some pressure off point guard Raymond Felton, who hasn't been running the pick-and- roll effectively enough to take advantage of Amar'e Stoudemire's talent.
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"Offensively, the biggest thing that we don't do is we don't keep our spacing and we're jamming everything up," coach Mike D'Antoni said after reviewing the tape of Wednesday night's 122-117 loss to Golden State. "It's why Amar'e had turnovers. That's why Raymond can't do the pick-and-roll. We've got guys clogging the lane and the spacing isn't good."
Felton left the practice floor before the media could ask to talk to him, but D'Antoni made it clear that he believes his point guard has the requisite skills to be a pick-and-roll guy.
"There's no doubt about that," D'Antoni said. "It's hard to explain, but there's a couple of areas we want to get the ball to that he's not getting the ball in there. And then when he gets into the actual play, we need better spacing."
The pick-and-roll was Stoudemire's bread-and-butter when he teamed with Steve Nash with the Suns, D'Antoni's previous team. It should be the bread-and-butter of this offense. D'Antoni estimated that 30 percent of his offense begins with a pick-and-roll and "80 to 90 percent" has the pick-and-roll in there somewhere.
This might go a long way toward explaining why the Knicks are 3-5 and have lost three straight games.
Stoudemire doesn't always need the pick-and-roll to be operating at full speed. In the fourth quarter against Golden State, he scored 13 points basically by creating his own shots. But the Knicks know that to fully take advantage of his skills, they need to sort out their spacing problems.
"Sometimes you just have to do that," Stoudemire said of the way he took over the offense in the fourth quarter. "But when the pick-and-roll isn't there, you have to make plays on your own. Right now, it's a learning curve for all of us."
Stoudemire sounded confident that the Knicks' offense will sort out its problems. "It's definitely not fun," he said of the 3-5 record. "But we're learning."
Notes & quotes: Ronny Turiaf (sprained left knee) is listed as questionable for tonight's game at Minnesota, but D'Antoni said he doesn't expect him to play . . . Thanks to a visit to an all-night dentist, Wilson Chandler no longer looks like a jack-o-lantern. One of Chandler's top front teeth broke into pieces when he was inadvertently hit by David Lee's elbow Wednesday. Chandler said he swallowed one piece, spit out another and now is wearing a temporary. When asked if he had ever worn a mouth guard, Chandler smiled and said: "I am now." One of the bits of tooth ended up in Lee's arm, and the wound became so sore that Lee said he couldn't remember experiencing so much pain. He sat out last night's 120-90 loss to the Bulls.