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Mike Woodson only worried about playoff race as Knicks fall two games back

Knicks head coach Mike Woodson looks at the

Knicks head coach Mike Woodson looks at the scoreboard in the second quarter during an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz Monday, March 31, 2014, in Salt Lake City. Credit: AP / Rick Bowmer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - As Mike Woodson ran the players through sets at the end of Knicks practice Wednesday, Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson weren't in the gym.

Anthony was getting treatment on his injured right shoulder. Jackson was in the facility but is "staying out of the way," Woodson said, as he prepares the Knicks for what could be his final four games as their coach.

"He's here conducting business, meeting with scouts and [general manager] Steve Mills," Woodson said. "He's doing things he's supposed to be doing and he's letting me coach. That's all you can ask at this point. At the end of the day we're trying to get this team in the playoffs and I'm sure when the time comes for Phil and I to talk, we'll talk."

Woodson's future remains a hot topic, but he said he's concerned only about the immediate future of the Knicks.

The Knicks are two games behind Atlanta for the last playoff spot after the Hawks' win Wednesday night. Both teams have four games left. The Knicks' next game is Friday in Toronto. Anthony, who did some conditioning work and shooting Wednesday, is expected to play.

The Knicks' performance has had Woodson under fire all season. Jackson's arrival as Knicks president last month fueled speculation that Woodson will be dismissed after the season in favor of someone the Zen Master knows, trusts and is fluent in the Triangle offense. Steve Kerr has been rumored to be a top candidate.

One of Woodson's closest allies, former Knicks coach Larry Brown, defended him on Sirius XM radio this week. Brown said he doesn't think Woodson has been treated fairly by the Knicks and that Jackson should coach to let Woodson leave "graciously."

"Larry's his own guy and I have a great deal of respect for Larry," Woodson said. "But Mike Woodson's his own guy as well. For me, it's been a roller-coaster year -- for all of us. I've never shied away from taking responsibility of this team. I'm the coach of this team and I take great pride in that.

"I just wish that things could have been different based on how we started the season and where we are today. On a positive note, we still have a shot to make the playoffs. We are playing better basketball coming down this home stretch. But only time will tell. I got to get this team in the playoffs and that's where my focus is."

Jackson could have valuable advice, but it doesn't sound as if he's given much input.

"I gather he's kind of staying out of the way and letting me do my thing in terms of trying to get this team in the playoffs," Woodson said. "That's OK. I'm sure when the time comes he and I'll have a chance to sit down and talk and see where we are. But first things first, guys, make no mistake about it, we're in a playoff race trying to get this eighth spot. That's where everybody's focus should be."

J.R.'s balancing act. After J.R. Smith shot 22 three-pointers in Sunday's loss in Miami, Amar'e Stoudemire said the Knicks should have gone inside more. Woodson said he'd like to see a more balanced game from Smith and the Knicks overall.

"He shot us back in it, got us back close," Woodson said. "But I want J.R. to be a complete player . . . I know there was some bickering out there about we didn't play inside enough. But for the most part we have established an inside game with Amar'e and with Melo. And we've shot a ton of threes as well. So we've got to keep them in that range where it's not so one-sided."

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