JR Smith has not exactly been Mike Woodson's favorite player to coach in the past two weeks. Despite being benched in two different games for different reasons by Woodson, the 2013 NBA's Sixth Man award winner still supports his head coach.
New York has lost it's five games in a row, including three in a row at home. They are coming an embarrassing loss to a Sixers team that is trying to tank for a good lottery pick. Instead of coming together against a bad team at home, the Knicks have officially hit rock bottom. Woodson's job is surely in jeopardy now, but Smith defended his coach.
“Right now we’re pretty much open to anything new,’’ Smith said. “The old stuff isn’t really getting it done. But at the end of the day, it’s going to come from the players. I don’t think it’s coach’s fault or the scheme’s fault. If you play hard and play smart it’s tough to lose games.’’
New York had a three hour practice yesterday and a long film session of the loss to the Sixers. Smith indicated that his coach may try some different defensive schemes and it doesn't matter what it is.
“That’s really not my area of expertise. I’m more of a scoring-type player. I’ll leave that to those guys. Whatever they want to do, it’s OK with me. Just let me know.’’
Smith is the first player on the team to openly support his coach and his strategy. Tyson Chandler has been Woodson's biggest critic during the five game losing streak. It all began after last Friday's loss to the Clippers when Chandler told the media that the team needs to be a little more "Strategic".
"We have to be a little more strategic about what we’re doing offensively and defensively, understand who has it going and what’s working (and) make it easier on guys out there," Chandler said.
"It’s collectively from the coaches down, coaches and players," Chandler said. "What happens is normally when things like this happen you start to shift blame – this player or that player or whatever. It’s all of us. Everybody in this locker room and every coach that’s signed on with the Knicks organization, all of our faults and we got to take it."
Things didn't get any better on Monday after New York's blow out loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Chandler was once again critical of Woodson's defensive strategy.
“I don’t want to switch. I personally don’t like it. You come with a defensive plan and then every guy kind of mans up and takes his responsibility. I think switching should always be your last resort. That’s me, personally.”
"Switching should be a last resort and, no, I don't think we're built to switch everything," Chandler said of Woodson's defensive philosophy. He went on to say, "They out-schemed us. They played to our defense as far as their offensive scheme, knowing our rotations, putting us in vulnerable situations.
"We have to be a little more strategic about what we’re doing offensively and defensively, understand who has it going and what’s working and make it easier on guys out there," Chandler said.
He added: "We have to get in our system so then it doesn’t matter so much when guys are going in and out. So that we don’t lean on personnel so much, so then we can fall back on the system in times of need."
Carmelo Anthony also praised Nets coach Jason Kidd for capitalizing on matchups. The Knicks couldn't stop Joe Johnson, who scored 25 points.
"They played to the mismatches," Anthony said Monday. "That's something that Jason does well, even when he was here. That was his big thing: Play to the mismatch."
"They played to our defense as far as their offensive scheme, knowing our rotations and knowing what we wanted to accomplish and kind of putting us in vulnerable situations, having to switch a lot and also taking our help guy out of the rotation.”
Woodson has said that he prefers players keeping issues within the team, but he did not criticize Chandler or Anthony for voicing out their displeasure.
"Sometimes it's healthy when players get upset; it means they're ticking a little bit. If they want to lash out at me, that's fine. I'm not a coach that takes things personally," Woodson said. "At the end of the day we got to meet at a common ground and win ball games. That's what it's all about and that's what I'm trying to be about. I still have to stay positive and I still have to coach and push this team to play at a high level, and that's what I'm going to try to do the rest of the way."
"I'm not kicking Tyson to the curb. I'm not going to kick Melo or anybody to the curb, because at the end of the day we're all in this foxhole together and we've got to figure it out."
The Knicks try to end their losing streak against the Charlotte Bobcats at home tonight. This is the fourth game of a season long eight-game home stand for the Knickerbockers.