Mike Woodson has been waiting for the Knicks to get healthy and to start establishing themselves at home. They might never be healthy, but the Knicks really will be hurting themselves if they don't immediately make the Garden a tough place for opposing teams to win.
The Knicks fell to 7-13 at home and 15-25 overall with their 14-point loss to the Clippers Friday night. It was the start of an eight-game homestand that ultimately could decide whether they will be playing postseason games or going home in April.
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"It seems like we can't figure it out here on our home court,'' Carmelo Anthony said. "We've got a great stretch that can work in our favor if we get some things right, adjust some things and figure it out quickly. We've got to get back to playing good on our own home court and feeling confident and playing basketball right.''
This should be a time for the Knicks to make up some ground. Starting tomorrow against the Nets, the Knicks' next six games are against teams that entered Saturday a combined 59 games under .500. Four of them began the day with the same or a worse record than the Knicks, who could be without Amar'e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin for the entire homestand, which ends two weeks from Sunday against Miami.
If the Knicks, who were 31-10 at the Garden last season, continue to play the way they did against the Clippers -- ineffective on offense and not hustling back on defense -- this could be a devastating time for them.
"We still have seven more home games here on this stretch and we got to try to win them all before this thing slips away,'' Woodson said. "We still have a shot at getting in that eight spot as well as winning our division, but we got to start winning some games here at home.''
Woodson, whose job appeared in jeopardy earlier this season, could feel the heat again if the Knicks don't play well in these two weeks. Tyson Chandler said they have to be "more strategic'' about what they're doing. It seemed to be a knock on Woodson, but Chandler said it's "all of our faults.''
The Knicks have slipped since starting January by winning six of seven, including five in a row. They have lost three straight by 52 points and have allowed an average of 111.3 points against teams that began the weekend averaging 99.7 points.
Some of the same things that hampered the Knicks in November and December have returned. They're not defending or playing with energy. They're getting little from their starting backcourt. Iman Shumpert was scoreless Friday and has seven points in the last three games. Raymond Felton continues to be a defensive liability and isn't directing the team well on offense.
The Knicks also are displaying bad body language when things aren't going right. Even Anthony, who continues to play hard throughout, is showing visible signs of frustration -- not a good thing, given that he will become a free agent this summer.
"We've got to get off this three-game skid,'' he said. "But we've got to figure it out quickly. We've got two days to just try to think about some things, what we're going to do and adjust and be ready Monday.''
Chandler's return was supposed to help the Knicks defensively, but he hasn't made his presence felt since coming back from a bout with bronchitis three games ago. He's trying to keep the team positive, though.
"It's tough, but the thing is I'm never going to hang my head and I'm going to make sure nobody in this locker room does,'' Chandler said. "We have to attack the problem head on. There's going to be no pity parties. We have to take care of it and fix it.''