How unhappy was coach Mike Woodson with the Knicks' first-half defense against the Magic Wednesday night?
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From talking about "big-time breakdowns" to labeling the play of James White as "soft" and expressing disappointment in Iman Shumpert's defensive outing, Woodson wasn't afraid to name names.
He was happier with the Knicks' second-half defense in their 113-97 win over Orlando at the Garden. But the players knew they had tested Woodson's patience in allowing the Magic to score 31 points in the first quarter behind guards J.J. Redick (14 in the quarter) and Jameer Nelson (12) -- even if they didn't agree with his assessment that the defense was poor.
"Not good," Woodson said. "Just not good enough. We've got to get better in that area. I think we were better in the second half."
Center Tyson Chandler, who led the Knicks with 21 points, defended the team's defense.
"I think we played good defense in the first quarter," he said. "Jameer and J.J. were just on fire."
Said point guard Raymond Felton: "Them guys were hitting tough shots. J.J. hit shots with Shump in his face. Jameer Nelson was hitting shots with my hand in his face. These are NBA players. Some nights you just can't stop a shot . . . But at the same time, coach Woody is one of those hard-nosed coaches. He wants you to stop them no matter what."
Shumpert said Woodson told the team at halftime to "man up" on the Magic. Reddick finished with a game-high 29 points and Nelson had 21. The only other Orlando player in double figures was center Nikola Vucevic with 12.
With Jason Kidd sidelined with a sore back, the Knicks turned to Pablo Prigioni for extra minutes. The 35-year-old rookie had one of his best offensive games of the season and helped shore up the defense with effective ball pressure.
"At the age he is, doing that, that puts a smile on my face," said the 22-year-old Shumpert.
Prigioni scored 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting (3-for-6 on three-pointers) in 15:31. He teamed with Felton (15 points, nine assists, no turnovers) to give the Knicks solid offensive point-guard play on a quiet -- but record-setting -- night for Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony finished with 20 points -- a Knicks' record 30th straight game with at least 20 points, breaking the mark held by Richie Guerin (1961-62).
Prigioni was averaging only 3.6 points per game as the Knicks' third point guard. But with Kidd out and Felton still rounding into form in his third game back from a broken pinkie, someone had to step up as a secondary ballhandler. That someone was Prigioni.
"We had 30 assists tonight, so the ball was moving," Woodson said. "Our pick-and-roll offense was pretty good . . . I thought our pace was a lot better tonight offensively. We still [have] a ways to go defensively."