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SportsColumnistsAl Iannazzone

Knicks hoping for a fresh start in 2014

Head coach Mike Woodson talks with Pablo Prigioni

Head coach Mike Woodson talks with Pablo Prigioni during a game against the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden. (Dec. 11, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Knicks played their final game of the year Saturday night and lost it to fall to 9-21. They probably believe 2014 will bring better things, but there are no guarantees it will.

They went to Toronto with a subpar record and a banged-up team as Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni ended the year unable to play. And the easy part of their schedule is behind them.

Mike Woodson keeps saying he would like to see the Knicks "with a full deck.'' It might never happen. It hasn't yet. Not once this season have the Knicks had their top nine players.

Other teams have injuries or aren't nearly as talented as the Knicks, as undermanned as they have been, and still are performing better and winning more. See the Suns, Bobcats, Raptors, Celtics and Bulls.

That's on Woodson first and foremost. But it's also on the players.

It's not as if the Knicks can say they'll improve in the draft, because they don't have a pick in 2014. Their upgrades will come through trades or free agency. And if the Knicks can't pull off something big, it's not definite that Anthony will re-sign this summer.

He recently told NBA TV that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh "were smart'' to join forces. They have been to three straight Finals, winning two championships.

They were smart -- and lucky. Super teams don't always work. See the Lakers last season and the Nets this season, and don't overlook the Anthony-Amar'e Stoudemire-Tyson Chandler Big Three.

But it's what Anthony wants. He wanted to play with Chris Paul with the Knicks. They have tried -- and will keep trying -- to acquire Rajon Rondo. They hope to get him in a trade, and if not, they should have the money to sign him in 2015 in a class that includes Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Roy Hibbert and Marc Gasol.

That's 18 months from now.

There still are 52 games to be played in a season the Knicks believed would be memorable. It has been, but not in a good way.

In his own World

From time to time, we like to give you the best of Metta World Peace. Here is the performer formerly known as Ron Artest after being asked about James Dolan addressing the Knicks on Thursday.

"I'm not a player, I'm an alien,'' World Peace said. "I heard about those reports. There's always conspiracies.

"I'm an alien. I wasn't actually there. I was in another galaxy [Thursday] with my galactic friends.

"My focus is on winning championships. I don't focus on anything else. Aliens only want to win championships. That's it. There's nothing else to focus on. Injuries is not a focus. Trade talk is not a focus. Nothing is a focus. Gluten-free pasta is not a focus, which I would rather have gluten-free pasta. Hey, if I have to have regular pasta, it is what it is. I'm still going to try to win a championship. Nothing will distract me from my focus, my galactic mind.''

This conversation actually happened.

A look at the locals

North Babylon's Danny Green was perfect Thursday: 7-for-7 overall (5-for-5 on three-pointers) and 3-for-3 from the line en route to 22 points in the Spurs' win over the Mavericks.

Usually a starter, Green came off the bench that game. He said coach Gregg Popovich might experiment with him as a reserve and see how it goes.

Former Half Hollow Hills West and Long Island Lutheran standout Tobias Harris has put up some big numbers for the Magic since returning from an ankle injury that sidelined him for 21 games. Harris, who was involved in the play that led to Carmelo Anthony's sprained ankle, is averaging 16.3 points and 7.8 rebounds since coming back four games ago.

Fast breaks

James Harden became the first player to score at least 27 points while making only two field goals. Harden shot 22-for-25 from the line in the Rockets' win over the Grizzlies on Thursday. Afterward, Zach Randolph said, "It was the refs. Eight against five,'' earning him a $25,000 fine.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban "hated'' the snug-fitting short-sleeved shirts teams wore on Christmas Day. Cuban said: "I just thought it made our guys look more like a high school wrestling team or a college wrestling team.''

D'An and fans

Former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni should know better than to go after the fans. You never win that battle.

D'Antoni has been trying to keep the Lakers in the playoff race despite major injuries to Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar.

"We're fighting with a bunch of good guys that played well before, and they'll play [well] again,'' D'Antoni said. "If [fans] are discouraged, then, you know, find another team to root for. We're not going to give up.''

He came to his senses the next day. "I was an idiot,'' he said. "I was out of my mind. I was ticked off. We didn't play well and I said some stuff I shouldn't have. It was stupid. That's me, I just made a mistake.''

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