GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Mike Woodson said he's not worried about his job, but some of his players are. Kenyon Martin got to the root of what the Knicks need to do to help him keep it.
"It's about us caring and giving a ----, man," Martin said. "That's what it boils down to."
The Knicks are 3-13 and have lost nine straight, so it's understandable that there is heat on Woodson. But Martin and Carmelo Anthony were among the Knicks who defended Woodson after practice Tuesday amid reports his job could be in jeopardy if they don't turn their season around.
"Welcome to New York," Anthony said. "We're worried about that. But then again, we've got to worry about playing basketball. I think that's been a problem in New York all this time.
"Everybody worries about what's being said on the outside. As a team, we've got to stick together. We've got to control our locker room. We've got to control what happens on the basketball court. That's by us playing hard, that's by us sticking to the game plan and doing what coach Woodson says to do out there on the basketball court. We can't worry about the speculation that's going on outside this building, and we shouldn't. And as a leader of this team, I'll try my best not to allow that."
The Knicks are in what could be a critical stretch for them and Woodson. They visit the rival Nets Thursday night, then host Orlando on Friday and Boston on Sunday. There has been speculation Woodson could be dismissed if the Knicks lose to the Nets, but those home games could be just as important. The Knicks haven't won at the Garden since opening night, going 0-7.
"It's not about me," Woodson said. "I'm trying to do the best I can do in terms of getting us out of this slump. We have to focus on Brooklyn."
By all indications and accounts, Woodson hasn't lost the locker room, but he is not free of blame. There have been games when the Knicks have come out sluggish or haven't executed well late, including Sunday night at home when they came unglued against the Pelicans.
There have been questions about how Woodson has handled Iman Shumpert's situation. Early in training camp, Woodson said he might lose his starting job to J.R. Smith. Shumpert, who has been dangled in trades, hasn't been himself this season and his play has been inconsistent at best. Woodson also may have stuck with Smith too long during his shooting struggles and defensive problems, and it has cost the Knicks.
But Martin said blame the players. "We need to go out and win a game," Martin said. "The man does an excellent job with us. It's not on him because we're not getting wins right now. We're prepared each and every day. He puts us in the best situation, the best scouting report and everything to go out and perform and we're just not getting it done on the court, so it's on us."
Last season, the Knicks moved the ball, got open shots and three-pointers and buckled down defensively. This season, they're often a one-pass, one-shot offense and their defense, especially with Tyson Chandler out with a broken leg, has buckled. Woodson said it's up to him to change that.
"That's why you never hear me stop saying I got to get us over this hump, I got to get us out of this hole we're in," Woodson said. "Sure, the players play, but I got to keep pushing them to believe they can win. It comes from the coach, and I think we're getting close, but the bottom line is we still have to win."
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