New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni gestures during the first...

New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni gestures during the first half. (Nov. 16, 2010) Credit: AP

LOS ANGELES - The "Seven Seconds or Less'' philosophy had to be torn up, and it might remain that way unless the Knicks eventually bring Steve Nash to New York to run it again for Mike D'Antoni.

"Steve can be the end-all guy,'' D'Antoni said. "He can have the ball to start with, and when it leaves his hands, it's over with.''

In Amar'e Stoudemire, the Knicks have the dynamic finisher who thrived with Nash, but although Raymond Felton is a solid point guard in his own right - as he and everyone else have repeated since training camp - he is not Steve Nash. So D'Antoni has had to adjust his trademark system to utilize the strengths of his roster.

And as the Knicks closed out their four-game western swing against the Clippers lastnight, the adjustments were starting to work. Felton, who had a career-high 35 points along with 11 assists in Friday night's 125-119 win over Golden State, was no longer conscripted to run the offense but be a part of it. The ball has moved from the top of the key to the wing, where capable playmakers such as Danilo Gallinari and rookie Landry Fields - not to mention center Ronny Turiaf - are more involved in moving the ball. Turiaf had eight assists Friday night.

"We have to involve more people,'' D'Antoni said. "We get our assists by getting two or three 'hockey assists,' where maybe in Phoenix [with Nash], we just needed one pass.''

Nash and Stoudemire used to run the pick-and-roll with great success, and in the previous two seasons, it was the favorite play for Chris Duhon and David Lee. But Felton struggled to make it work with Stoudemire, and after about a dozen games of trying, D'Antoni decided to scrap it.

"When you have 10 new guys, there are a lot of things that you're thinking, 'This is really going to be good,' and it's a disaster,'' D'Antoni said.

Felton may have found a new favorite for the play list in the "pinch post,'' which is something often used in the triangle offense. It involves the ball going to the wing and the guard - in this case Felton - running off the big man, Stoudemire, at the top of the key. It worked several times against the Warriors.

"If you come off that quick, it's kind of tough to guard that,'' Felton said. "When I go off, my man is behind me. It's a layup.''

The Knicks still have to improve their execution down the stretch, as they almost blew another fourth-quarter lead against the Warriors after going up 18 late in the third. Gallinari was able to knock down three clutch three-pointers and score 11 points in a three-minute span to avoid disaster, and it should be noted that the shots were all the result of ball movement, with assists from Felton, Stoudemire and Turiaf.

D'Antoni isn't completely satisfied, but at least there are signs of improvement. "You get certain ideas and it doesn't work, so you've got to do other things; it's not like you change the offense, but you change the emphasis on how we're doing it,'' he said. "You've got to adjust to it, and that's why it takes a little while to jell and find out the players' strengths and then get them confident enough to do what they do.''

Felton spoke excitedly about the offense for the first time after the win over Golden State, which certainly made it easy because Monta Ellis (40 points) and Stephen Curry (29), for all of their offense, hardly challenged on defense. But it was a perfect environment for Felton to find his comfort zone.

"This system is fun,'' Felton said. "Once you learn it and get comfortable with one another, it's fun.''


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