Up above each of the players’ lockers inside the Knicks rooms at Madison Square Garden is a screen printed number right next to an image of the Larry O’Brien trophy. The number is 16. It represents how many games the team needs to win in the post-season to claim the championship. At the rate the Knicks continue to dig a deeper hole, it may be a struggle just to get to 16 wins total this season.
The Knicks blew a winnable game, against a beatable opponent, on Monday night at The Garden. A series of errors in the closing seconds costing them the game against Washington, 102-101.
Coach Mike Woodson’s refusal – or lack of presence of mind – to call a timeout once Bradley Beal, who had a slow-footed Beno Udrih defending him, blew to the basket to give the Wizards a one-point lead with 6.9 seconds left.
Woodson failed to call timeout, and Carmelo Anthony went 93′ feet to hoist a three-pointer that never looked like it was going in.
The Knicks drop to 7-17 on the season, and 4-9 at The Garden.
After the game Woodson admitted that he would take the blame for the late-game blunders.
“I probably should have taken a timeout at the end,” said Woodson. “Beno grabbed it and the ball was in Melo’s hands before I could even react and I should have reacted sooner once the ball went through the bucket. So that is on me.”
Unfortunately this is not an aberration this season for Woodson, his lack of communication with his players is becoming the norm. Against Houston earlier in the season Anthony fouled Dwight Howard when he shouldn’t have; against Indiana, Iman Shumpert fouled Paul George on a three-point play that helped score an extra five-minutes of play for the Pacers – who eventually won the game.
The Knicks can ill-afford these lapses, not when they’re 10-games below .500, and especially not when the
coach is fighting for his job. The players are not entirely blameless either. There was enough veteran presence on the floor in crunsh-time for them to know to call timeout.
Anthony, who finished with 32 points, said as much post-game.
“If he [Woodson] said it’s his fault, it’s his fault,” said Anthony. “There’s no need for me to talk about that or make excuses for it. He said that was his fault, he’ll take the blame, then he takes the blame. As players we got to be smart enough to know as well – time, score and situation. In a situation like that we knew we had timeouts, we knew we had fouls to give at the end of the game.
“We can’t leave it on the coach to do it.”
The heat will fall on the coach, though. Woodson has talked all season long about no other team running away with the Atlantic Division, and all it takes is for one team (preferrably the Knicks) to get hot to win it. Since the Knicks haven’t been able to string consistent wins together, another one of these late game failures could cost Woodson his job.
Anthony refused to speculate on the coach’s job security.
“I won’t discuss it,” said Anthony. “I won’t talk about that. As far as I’m concerned he’s secure right now. I haven’t heard anything. There’s nothing to discuss. He’s our coach and we’re rolling with him.”
Image via: ROBERT SABO/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS