Knicks top Blazers by 42 in Woodson's debut
The Mike Woodson era got off to a rousing start Wednesday night as the Knicks played one of their most complete games of the season in a 121-79 rout of the Portland Trail Blazers at the Garden.
The Knicks (19-24) ended a six-game losing streak by playing the kind of suffocating defense their new interim head coach had been preaching in his role as Mike D'Antoni's defensive assistant.
The Knicks held the Blazers to 12 points in the first quarter and took a 55-29 lead into halftime. The game was never competitive. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the largest margin of victory in a coach's first game with a team in NBA history.
"An unfortunate day, but from a basketball standpoint we had a lot of fun today on the court," said Carmelo Anthony, who scored 10 of the Knicks' first 20 points and finished with 16 points and seven assists.
"We're on a position now where we can move forward and build on this win tonight," said Amar'e Stoudemire, who had 17 points, shooting 8-for-10, and added eight rebounds.
Neither Stoudemire nor Anthony played much in the second half.
J.R. Smith had 23 points off the bench, including seven three-pointers -- all in the second half. Steve Novak had 20 and Iman Shumpert 16. Baron Davis had only four points but added 10 assists with just one turnover. Jeremy Lin had six points, six assists and six turnovers.
Gone was the lack of effort and stagnation on offense that pockmarked D'Antoni's final days. The coach stepped down Wednesday afternoon and was replaced for the rest of the season by Woodson, who joined D'Antoni's staff in the offseason. "It was kind of an emotional day," Woodson said. "They stepped up and they made plays on both ends of the floor. I was very impressed with how they defended and how they shared the ball offensively, which was nice to see."
The good feelings at the Garden started before the game. A cheer went up when Woodson was introduced as head coach. Some Knicks fans chanted "Fire D'Antoni" during the team's previous home game against the 76ers on Sunday.
D'Antoni ran Wednesday's morning shoot-around before deciding to step down in what the club called a mutual decision. Woodson had little time to do anything other than say yes to the promotion and briefly address the players, as did Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan, according to Stoudemire.
For whatever reason, everything clicked. Anthony and Stoudemire were scoring. Lin and Davis were passing. Tyson Chandler was playing defense and rebounding. The role players were role-ing. If the Knicks were a baseball pitcher, Wednesday night would have been a perfect game.
The Knicks had arms and legs in every passing lane, contested every shot and went hard after every loose ball -- things they had lamenting not doing consistently under D'Antoni.
There was no letup in the second half as the lead swelled to 42 in the Knicks' highest scoring game of the season. Woodson's name was chanted in the closing minutes.
It was that kind of night at the Garden.