The timing couldn't have been worse.
After two days of defending his team's defense, Mike Woodson saw his team turn in one of its worst defensive performances of the season Wednesday night as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Knicks, 110-106, at Madison Square Garden.
The loss was the Knicks' fifth straight. The Knicks lost their previous four by a total of 75 points. None of those, however, was against a team as troubled as the Sixers. Philadelphia entered the game having lost three straight and seven of their last eight.
The Knicks trailed the majority of the game. They managed to pull within two, 102-100, after J.R. Smith hit a free throw with 2:00 left. This is where the Knicks should have clamped down. This is where they should have made a statement about what type of team they think they can be. Instead, the Knicks let Thaddeus Young nail a three-pointer moments before Iman Shumpert came running toward him. After Carmelo Anthony missed a three-pointer, Evan Turner hit a 6-foot fadeaway with 1:14 left to put away the game.
"We botched it up," Woodson said of Young's three. "We botched a defensive play on our part..We didn't defend it."
Added J.R. Smith: "They were pretty much getting any shot they wanted."
The Knicks (15-27) are 0-3 on what has been seen as a critical eight-game homestand.
Turner led all scorers with a career-high 34 points and 11 rebounds. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 28 and Andrea Bargnani, who started at center, scored 20.
The Knicks entered Wednesdaynight's game amid complaining from their star players and renewed questions about Woodson's job status.
Even before the game, things weren't going well for the Knicks and their defense. Woodson came to his pregame news conference armed with statistics and ready to defend his defensive strategy, which involves a lot of switching.
"Switching didn't hurt us the other night," Woodson said, referring to the Knicks' loss to the Nets on Monday night. "We switched 37 times. They scored eight times. So that's kind of misleading."
After the Nets' loss, Tyson Chandler said he didn't agree with Woodson's defensive strategy. "I don't want to switch. I personally don't like it," he said. "You come with a defensive plan and then every guy kind of mans up and takes his responsibility. I think switching should always be your last resort. That's me, personally."
On Tuesday, Woodson told reporters that he had talked with Chandler about his comments, and that he preferred that the team not air their problems in the media. Yet, it was apparent before Wednesday night's game that Woodson was still unhappy with the scrutiny his defense has been getting in the wake of Chandler's comments.
"I don't think anyone complained in the five-game stretch," Woodson said, in reference to the Knicks' five-game winning streak earlier this month.
The comment was a not-so-thinly veiled knock at Chandler, who missed four of those games and played in just one minute of the fifth because of an upper-respiratory infection.