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Mike Woodson says Knicks not worried about catching Heat

Mike Woodson instructs his team during a game

Mike Woodson instructs his team during a game against the Miami Heat. (Nov. 2, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Mike Woodson isn't as concerned about catching the Heat as he is making sure the Knicks return to defending consistently and keeping the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

The Knicks trail LeBron James and the East-leading Heat by 31/2 games.

"I can't worry about Lebron and Miami," Woodson said before the Knicks' 92-88 loss to Toronto. "I've got to really focus in on what we're doing. First and foremost we've got to stay at the top of our division and then after that whatever happens, happens.

"They're not going to quit playing. They're the world champions. They figured it out last year. We're trying to get where they were last year. I can't see them tailing off by any means. We've just got to figure out what we're going to do and try to stay consistent."

Woodson said when the Knicks return from the All-Star break next week, the priority will be defense. "For sure we've got to sharpen our defense," he said. "We can dictate the game based on our defense. That's what I need to get us back to."

Lineup change

The Knicks have gotten very little from Jason Kidd lately. The starting shooting guard has been scoreless four times in the last nine games, including last night, and had difficulty guarding DeMar DeRozan. Kidd could be coming off the bench after the break as Woodson said he's contemplating a change. "Right now I don't like the way we're starting games," Woodson said. "I've got to go back to the drawing board and figure out what I'm going to do in terms of who starts."

Shumpert's offense

Woodson bristled when he was asked a question about Iman Shumpert's offense. "Man, I'm not worried about Iman and his offense," Woodson said. "Play defense. Rebound the basketball. Do some dirty work. Offense will take care of itself. I'm not entertaining that at all. It's not about Iman and his offense. It's about the New York Knicks trying to win an NBA title."

Rasheed's return?

Woodson said he's "banking on" Rasheed Wallace -- sidelined since Dec. 13 because of a stress reaction in his left foot -- to "do some things on the floor" when the Knicks return to practice Tuesday. Woodson isn't sure when Marcus Camby (strained left plantar fascia) will practice.

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