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Mike Woodson blames six-game skid on lack of defense

Knicks head coach Mike Woodson watches as the

Knicks head coach Mike Woodson watches as the Knicks play the Atlanta Hawks in the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. (Nov. 16, 2013) Credit: Ray Stubblebine

WESTWOOD, Calif. - Mike Woodson was very emphatic and impassioned Tuesday as he tried to clear up some misconceptions to his team and his critics.

He told his players the reasons they've lost six in a row have nothing to do with a lack of ball movement -- it's a lack of defense. Woodson bristled to reporters the idea that he doesn't like Iman Shumpert is a lie, but he used a more colorful description.

"If I didn't like him I don't think he'd be averaging 30 minutes on my ballclub," Woodson said after the Knicks practiced at UCLA. "I like everybody on our team so that perception is ---- if you ask me. If I didn't think much of the young man he wouldn't be playing. That's how demanding a coach I am.

"If I don't think much of you you're not going to play. I'm going to play guys that I like, that I think can help us win, that plays hard and he's one of those kids. That's why he's been a starter on the team ever since he's been a rookie."

Woodson met with Shumpert and told him he should be playing with more energy, among other things, after he had no points, rebounds or assists in 23 minutes in Monday's loss at Portland.

Shumpert has been beaten defensively more this year than his first two seasons. But Shumpert, who has been the subject of trade rumors and who Woodson gets on often, had no issue with what his coach said.

"I don't take [offense] when my head coach comes down on me," Shumpert said. "That's what he's supposed to do. He's supposed to ask for the most out of me and every player on this team and that's what he continues to do."

The question remains whether the Knicks are listening because every game they go through stretches where they're not committing to defense or playing hard enough. If they do that Wednesday night against Chris Paul and the Clippers, the Knicks will be run out of Staples Center.

After the loss in Portland, Amar'e Stoudemire and Shumpert spoke about a lack of ball movement being the problem. When that's said, especially around the Knicks, it's usually code for Carmelo Anthony is shooting too much.

"It comes back to me," Anthony said. "When you hear that it's like 'Where is it coming from. Why is it being said?' The real reason we're losing is because we're not defending."

But Anthony has been doing everything to try and lead the Knicks to wins, from passing out of double-teams more to rebounding in the absence of Tyson Chandler. Anthony is averaging 10.2 rebounds a game and Woodson came to his defense.

"I'm not going there with you on that," Woodson said. "Melo's having another solid season. Melo's doing what he's supposed to do. Everybody else has got to do what they need to do as well. Nobody's shooting the ball extremely well. Everybody's getting shots. We put up enough shots [Monday] night. Some guys didn't make shots. I'm not even going to entertain that.

"I don't put it on the offensive end. I'm not that kind of coach. We did everything we needed to do last year based on our defense first and rebounding the ball and then we went and played offense. That's how the game is played. If you never play defense, you never rebound the ball, you never give yourself a chance to play offense. My thing is we're not getting it done on the other end."

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