Mike Woodson: Players should keep criticisms in-house

Mike Woodson points to his bench during a

Mike Woodson points to his bench during a game against the Nets at Madison Square Garden. (Jan. 20, 2014) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Mike Woodson's team appears to be in free fall again, having lost its last four games by a total of 75 points. Tyson Chandler, his best defensive player, is publicly questioning the Knicks' defensive schemes. And Carmelo Anthony, his best offensive player, is questioning Woodson's adjustments and the team's effort.

What's an embattled coach to do? On Tuesday, Woodson addressed the situation head on, talking to his players before the team's practice.

"I don't think it's something you air in the paper. If you got issues, you hold the coach and your teammates accountable and you air it out amongst yourself," Woodson said. "It happens in sports. I'm not kicking Tyson to the curb. I'm not kicking Melo or anyone to the curb. At the end of the day, we're all in this foxhole together and we have to figure it out."

Woodson said he doesn't feel like Chandler intentionally took a shot at him after the Knicks' blowout loss to the Nets on Monday but added that his players needed to "play a little harder and smarter."

"I think when you win games, things are OK. When you lose, things seem to creep in," he said. "I don't ever air and I don't like players airing [their complaints]. Tyson and I spoke. I don't know what was said from Tyson. At the end of the day, I have to coach and I have to get players playing harder and smarter. That's their job to do that. If they do that a little more consistently, we'll be better for it."

Chandler said after practice that neither he nor Anthony was trying to point a finger at Woodson.

"I think we were just discussing the game, what we saw. They weren't shots at the coach," he said. "I think myself and Melo, if we had something we wanted to discuss with our head coach, we'll do so in his office or in meetings. We were just saying what we saw and that's that.

"We were frustrated at both ends. When you're losing, nothing is fun. Then you have to make changes, you have to make adjustments when you're losing because obviously things aren't working. So that wasn't meant to be a shot. It was being truthful."

Chandler said after the loss that the Nets "out-schemed us," adding that he personally doesn't like switching on defense, which is Woodson's strategy.

The Knicks (15-26) have lost the first two games of an eight-game homestand. The next five games are against teams with losing records. Woodson, who survived an earlier period on the hot seat when the Knicks put together a five-game win streak at the beginning of the month, was asked if he believed his job was in jeopardy if the losing continues.

Said Woodson: "I don't worry about that, I really don't. Thirty years I've been in this business. It happens to coaches. My focus is not on that. My focus is on trying to salvage the season with 41 games left to try to get us back on top."

Woodson: Beno, do your job. Woodson responded to a report that Beno Udrih has asked for a trade. "Right now, Beno is wearing a Knick uniform," Woodson said. "As long as he is wearing a Knick uniform, I expect him to be professional about his approach. I expect him to work his butt off when he's out here in practice. When he gets an opportunity to play, I expect him to play hard and to try to help us win games. That's his job."

Udrih, who was signed last summer for the veteran's minimum of $1.27 million, hasn't been in the team's rotation since Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni came back from injuries.

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