Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.
Mike Woodson gets defensive - again
Mike Woodson continues to play defense better than his players.
Woodson defended Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony, who have been openly critical about the team. Woodson defended his defensive scheme. And during his weekly spot with 98.7 FM ESPN Woodson said he’s not going to let the media tear the Knicks apart.
Actually the Knicks are doing a good job of that by themselves.
They are 15-27, have dropped five straight and are allowing 109.4 points in those losses. Their leaders are unhappy. Their secondary player and tertiary players are unhappy. No one is happy. Woodson could be back on the hot seat. But he says they all have to stick together.
“I’m not going to let anybody quit,” Woodson said. “I’m surely not going to quit. And I’m going to continue to push these guys to get this goal accomplished in terms of making the playoffs.”
No, the Knicks are not out of it despite their record and poor play at MSG, where they have opened up this make-or-break eight-game homestand with three straight losses.
The Knicks, who host the Bobcats tomorrow, started Thursday three games out of the eighth playoff spot in the East and 6 ½ behind -Atlantic Division-leading Toronto.
“If this was the last week of the season and we didn’t have a shot at making the playoffs I’d say everybody should hang their head,” Woodson said. “We still got 40 games left. I refuse to bend. I still think we have a legitimate shot of getting one of those playoff spots. I expect our guys to feel the same way. It’s going to be my job to drive and push guys to see that that happens.”
It’s become a familiar refrain from Woodson. He’s trying to keep the Knicks focused on the playoffs but this just may not be a playoff team after all. They’re not playing like one or acting like one.
Frustration is seeping in everywhere. This could be the most Anthony has been frustrated since forcing a trade to the Knicks in 2011. He’s been displeased with the Knicks’ effort and rightfully so.
Chandler has been very vocal about what he’s seeing. He brought up the Knicks not making adjustments in Indiana last week. After Monday’s loss to the Nets, Chandler said that Brooklyn “out-schemed us,” and he didn’t agree with the defensive game plan of switching pick-and-rolls and said the Knicks didn’t have the personnel to do it.
Chandler said it wasn’t a knock on Woodson, but how can it not be? It’s the coach’s game plan. Woodson twisted it and put it on the media.
“It’s OK for players to voice their opinions,” Woodson said. “I always try to keep things inside of our locker room. Sometimes a player might say something he thinks he’s saying the right thing and it comes out the wrong way. Reporters have a way or writing and putting the word out there about certain things that may not be true.
“I know how the media works,” Woodson continued. “[Chandler] did say that. But I’m not a coach that’s going to sit here, I’m not going to fight with my players. We’re all in this together. Tyson and I spoke, had a great conversation. At the end of the day he’s still got to go out and perform. I still got to coach players to perform. At the end of the day, we got to win.
“Him challenging me, I challenge players, Melo challenging effort - I think it’s healthy. I’m not going to sit here and let the media tear up our team and what we’re trying to do. I got to keep guys in place, keep guys playing hard and keep guys believing that we can still make the playoffs. That’s the goal.”
One of the hosts brought up that Chandler shouldn’t say anything since the Knicks won five in a row this month while he was battling bronchitis. He also mentioned that Chandler was sidelined for much of a long-winning streak last season. But Woodson defended Chandler.
“I’m going to challenge him to be better, and I’m going to challenge Melo and all the guys that in uniform to be better,” Woodson said. “That’s where I go as a coach. I’m not going to sit here and demoralize Tyson. Tyson is a big piece of what we do. Tyson helped us win 54 games last year and 18-6 the year before that. We just got to get everybody on board for 48 minutes and see what happens. “