Knicks at a loss for answers as Mike Woodson’s fate lingers
The Knicks are in the midst of their longest losing streak since 2006, are apparently becoming undone at the seams with infighting and are playing their worst ball since head coach Mike Woodson took over in March 2012.
And to top off that onslaught of negativity, Carmelo Anthony, who is enduring his worst shooting season to date (42.3 percent), has no answers on how to fix the ills.
“We just have stick together and figure this out as a team,” Anthony said. “I don’t know what we have to do to come together as a group, but we got to do something. These couple of days off should help us come together as a group. The easiest thing for us is to go our separate ways and separate this team. And the hardest thing to do right now is to remain positive. … We just got to do something [positive].”
One thing the Knicks need to do is find a way to close out games. Woodson used the word “tight” following Sunday’s loss to New Orleans, as it’s becoming increasingly apparent the Knicks have forgotten how to win. New York has certainly looked like a crunchtime neophyte as of late, evidenced by the 6-foot-7 Anthony failing to get off a shot over the 6-foot-4 Randy Foye in the loss to the Nuggets last week and then being unable to put away a Pelicans squad that played without star center Anthony Davis for the final three quarters.
The most recent loss may be the most troubling as there were three straight turnovers, multiple defensive breakdowns on the pick-and-roll and five straight missed 3-pointers to close out the contest.
But despite the on-court breakdowns and sideline meltdowns amongst teammates, point guard Raymond Felton still believes all their troubles are correctable.
“I don’t think it’s a lot of big things,” Felton said. “It’s been a lot of minor things [like] a turnover here and a turnover there at the wrong moment, or a bad switch here and a bad switch there that gives up an open 3-pointer. … Things you don’t pay attention to, but can definitely hurt you in a course of a game.”
Knicks notes …
» The Knicks’ nine-game losing streak could be the impetus to greasing Woodson’s skid out of New York, according to reports, making Thursday night’s matchup against the Nets more pivotal than usual. A win is actually more palpable now, though, as Brooklyn forward Paul Pierce will be out two to four weeks with a nondisplaced fracture of his right hand. Point guard Deron Williams (ankle) will be doubtful as well.
» Woodson, though, said he’s not even thinking about his job security or worried about the mental state of his team, adding his only concern is Thursday night: “No, it’s not panic time. We just have to figure out a way to beat Brooklyn.”
» Anthony had a different take on Woodson’s immediate future.
“Yeah, we’re worried about that,” Anthony said when asked if he thinks about his coach’s job security. “But then again, we’ve got to worry about playing basketball, too, man.”
“The man does an excellent job with us. … It’s not on him because we’re not getting wins right now,” said Kenyon Martin. “It’s about us going out and playing the way we capable of playing. It’s about us caring and giving a f—, man, that’s what it boils down to.”
» Woodson addressed any conceived rift between his players — particularly during the Pelicans game when Iman Shumpert could be seen yelling at Anthony during a timeout:
“During the heat of the battle — especially when you’re losing games — everybody points the finger and tries to reach for certain things,” said Woodson. “I’m not gonna allow that to happen with our group. We have a close-knit group. There was a mistake that happened defensively when that happened, [and] there were some words exchanged. But at the end of the day, that’s behind us and we got to move on. That’s basketball. That happens in sports. Sometimes it’s healthy, I think.”
» Martin and J.R. Smith both sat out practice for a rest and recovery day.
» The Knicks and Bucks, a team they defeated on opening night, are tied for the NBA’s worst record.
» Anthony said he still has faith in his squad and thinks the Knicks still have time to right the ship and contend in the east.
“We just need to get our mental right and get everybody feeling good about ourselves,” said Anthony. “We’re trying to find our identity. Last year we found it. This year we’re still searching. [But] I think we can be a helluva team.’’
» Among the Knicks’ many problems, Smith’s shooting down the stretch is also a huge concern. The erratic shooting guard has shot just 30.6 percent (23-of-75) in the final five minutes of games separated by five points or less since the beginning of last season. Woodson’s loyalty — and perhaps stubbornness — could also be enabling those woes, as he’s reluctant to bench Smith during the waning moments.
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.