The Knicks got an important victory on Wednesday over an undermanned Bulls team, because despite the fact that New York blew a 23-point lead before hanging on to win over the final few possessions, it relieved some of the pressure on head coach Mike Woodson.
New York has been without key players due to injury all season long. But being on the wrong end of a 41-point loss Sunday and following it up with another slow start Tuesday in a 15-point loss to Cleveland speaks to effort and preparation, and whether it’s right or not, the blame for that will ultimately fall on the shoulders of the head coach.
The players can’t focus on that, however, if they’re going to improve the situation by winning, and Carmelo Anthony said as much on Wednesday.
“When we win, the heat is off. When we lose, the heat is on. That’s just our business, that’s our society, that’s New York,” Anthony said after scoring 30 points in an 83-78 win over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. “It happens. He can’t worry about that. We can’t worry about that.”
Woodson himself may not be worried necessarily, but he did defend himself a bit by detailing the injury issues.
“We’ve had restrictions on certain players, you know, we went through that phase. We’re kinda starting to grow out of that. Guys couldn’t play back-to-backs. Now, here’s Amar’e being able to play back to back. … [So] we’ve got to get our core guys back, No. 1. We’ve got to get Tyson back and see what our team is really about. [Because] I don’t know. We’ve had so many injuries, coming out of camp, I don’t know what this team is about if we had a full deck and everyone was playing. … I don’t know.
“I’ve never got to experience that [this season].”
Woodson is in a similar position as Jason Kidd with the Nets, in that even if you don’t like some of his lineup choices and substitution patterns, it’s difficult to judge him fully without seeing what he can do with his full complement of players.
And then, there’s this little issue that people seem to conveniently forget about when discussing making a midseason coaching switch: If you fire Woodson, who comes in to replace him?
That last part won’t matter, of course, if the Knicks continue to have lapses in energy that cause them to suffer more embarrassing blowout losses. But coming off of a much-needed win, the fury surrounding Woodson’s status has subsided a bit, if only until the team’s next game.