SAN FRANCISCO - Mike D'Antoni came clean after Sunday's buzzer-beating loss in Portland. He admitted to his players on the team charter that on the final play, when Brandon Roy scored on a driving finger roll to give the Trail Blazers a 109-108 victory, he did not know the Knicks had a foul to give.
The Knicks had not yet used their first foul in the final two minutes, which results in a non-shooting situation. The ball was inbounded with 4.3 seconds left; as most teams do, D'Antoni could have instructed Jared Jeffries to grab Roy the second he caught the ball just to kill some precious time. But no such orders were given in the 20-second timeout D'Antoni called before the inbounds play.
Even Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan was surprised the Knicks didn't use the foul. D'Antoni said: "A position like that, why wouldn't you foul? It makes no sense not to foul."
When asked by reporters after the game about the foul-to-give situation, D'Antoni admittedly was caught off guard. It was then that he realized the mistake.
"When you asked me night, it hit me," he said. "But that's the way it is. That's my responsibility. Probably won't happen again but can't swear to it. I messed up."
With most NBA teams, it is the responsibility of the head trainer to keep track of fouls and inform the head coach, but D'Antoni wouldn't identify who was performing that duty, said he should have been aware of the situation himself and took the entire blame. "I told [the players] that one is my responsibility," he said. "I lost one, they've lost 28."
At practice yesterday here at the downtown Sports Club LA, the Knicks were upset about how some comments a few players made during the 0-3 "Dream Week" at the Garden were being portrayed in the national media.
On Sunday's Cavaliers-Lakers telecast on ABC, former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said the positive talk after losing should be a concern for management. He said of David Lee's infamous "best 0-3 week I ever had" line, "He should know; he's had plenty of them."
D'Antoni was upset about that observation. "Jeff Van Gundy's a great coach and I like Jeff, so I don't want to get into it, but I thought he misinterpreted what David said," D'Antoni said. "Now you can interpret it any way, that he doesn't care or he's happy to lose. But I don't believe that for a second. I don't think you have a guy who has 37 double-doubles competing every night and playing hard as he can and say he doesn't care."
Lee explained that his comments -- such as Al Harrington's use of the expression "feel-good loss" in reference to the Cleveland game -- were intended to maintain a positive outlook in the media.
"I was disappointed after that 0-3 week, but no offense to you guys, but continuing any bit of negativity doesn't help anything with our New York media," Lee said. "I wanted to stay positive. I always try to stay positive."
Notes & quotes: The Knicks might not have an essential player for tonight's game against Jamal Crawford and the Warriors. Chris Duhon sprained his left ankle in the third quarter of Sunday's game, and although he stayed in until the end, he sat out practice yesterday. D'Antoni said he expects him to be ready for the game ... Quentin Richardson (bruised chest muscle) also sat out practice but is expected to play ... D'Antoni would not commit to keeping rookie Danilo Gallinari in the starting lineup tonight. "I don't know yet," he said. "I might just change it up and change it up and change it up. Every game, we try to find the right combo that works the best and go with it."