GREENBURGH, N.Y. - After twice watching the Knicks play with no energy or passion in early afternoon games this season, Mike Woodson planned to keep close tabs on his players Friday night.

The Knicks spent the night in a hotel and Woodson instituted somewhat of a curfew. When's bedtime?

"I think 10," Carmelo Anthony said, smiling. "That's what I'm hearing."

It shouldn't have come to this. But Woodson, whose job security seems to be a daily topic, might not be able to afford another poor showing when the Knicks (8-17) host the Grizzlies at noon Saturday.

Their previous two noon starts at home resulted in their worst two games this season -- a 31-point loss to San Antonio on Nov. 10 and a 41-point rout by the Celtics on Dec. 8.

The Knicks trailed 10-0, 21-4 and by as many as 37 against the Spurs. Against Boston, it was 18-1 and 25-3, and the hole grew to 45 in the fourth quarter.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"We've had those troubles," Woodson said. "We're going to all get together and huddle together. I'm not going to let them hang out. We're going to be together. Put it that way."

The Knicks didn't spend the night before the San Antonio game in a hotel, but they did before the Boston game. They met in the morning and then went to the arena. But it was as if they never showed up. They suffered their third-worst home loss in franchise history, leading to speculation that some players enjoyed the Manhattan nightlife a little too much. Woodson didn't necessarily agree.

"I don't know why we've gotten off to such bad starts and hadn't played well," he said. "I don't think it's anything of guys hanging out. I don't know why that is. We're going to do something a little different this time, see if it helps."

"Sometimes it works and sometimes it don't," Anthony said. "It's just a matter of us coming out the gate and establish [ourselves] early. I don't think it has anything to do with us staying in a hotel or not. That's what Coach wants to do and we're going to do it."

One thing going for the Knicks is that unlike the previous two noon starts, they'll have Tyson Chandler. Chandler, who returned from a broken right leg in Wednesday's double-overtime win over Milwaukee, plays with effort and energy, and his teammates usually feed off that.

But Anthony said the Knicks need to overcome mental hurdles in the early starts.

"When you have them early- morning games, you start thinking too much," he said. "Should you go to sleep early? Should you get this amount of rest? I think it's all mental. Besides it being an early game, I think it's all mental at that point."