Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News
Carmelo Anthony (r.) gets little help from fellow starters Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani.
Only James Dolan knows what the immediate future holds for Mike Woodson, who seems to try a different lineup every game, which inevitably leads to the same result.
The Knicks, no matter which five are on the floor, continue to look lethargic and unorganized, especially at home and in the afternoon. At high noon on Saturday, Woodson started a big lineup, which was a colossal mistake considering the Knicks still got crushed on the boards before losing, 95-87, to Zach Randolph and the Memphis Grizzlies at the Garden.
Nothing is working, and with each loss, the pressure on the head coach increases. The Knicks are now 8-18 overall and 4-10 at home, matching their home loss total for all of last season.
“Last year we were a different type of team, we were an established team from the jump,” Anthony said. “We had an identity from the jump, and right now it seems like we are still searching for it this far into the season.”
Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News
The hot seat must be burning up under Mike Woodson as the Knicks lose to the woeful Grizzlies.
This game marked the third time this season in which the Knicks struggled during a noon home game. Previously, they lost by 31 to the Spurs and 41 to Boston. They never held a lead in either game. Woodson organized a sleepover in Manhattan Friday night to get the Knicks ready and in bed on time but it didn’t work: they fell behind by nine in the first quarter and trailed over the final 30 minutes. When the buzzer sounded, Dolan sat in his customary baseline seat for a few extra seconds, took a deep breath and then exited.
Woodson’s best lineups last season featured Anthony at power forward, but in half the games this year, Anthony has played small forward, including Saturday. The Knicks are 3-10 in those games.
When asked if the big lineup is the way to go against teams such as Memphis and Indiana, Anthony said: “Well, we don’t know. Because you never know what lineup we are going to have out there. So that comes from day to day. That is not something that we discuss. We come in and it’s on the board that this is the lineup that is going to be out there and we have to adjust from there.”
Anthony appeared to be suggesting that a regular lineup would benefit everyone, since Woodson’s mixing and matching isn’t working. Saturday’s starting five was Woodson’s 12th different lineup this season.
Howard Simmons/New York Daily News
Carmelo Anthony scores 30 points in another losing effort by the Knicks.
“I don’t know, I don’t think that’s for me to answer and talk about that,” Anthony said. “At this point we are going with what is on the board. If it is on the board that it is a big lineup that day, then that is what we are going with. And if it is on the board that we are going with a small lineup, then that is what we are going to go with. We’ve got to be able to adjust to that.”
The Knicks’ frontcourt of Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani was overpowered by a Memphis team still without injured center Marc Gasol. With Randolph, the former Knick, finishing with 25 points and 15 rebounds, Memphis held a 56-29 rebounding edge. In fact, the Grizzlies committed 19 turnovers but still took three more shots than the Knicks because of their willingness to crash the boards. “I mean, that’s embarrassing, especially when you start a big lineup,” Woodson said of the rebounding disparity. “So I mean, Tyson, Bargnani, Melo, they’ve got to rebound the ball better. We’ve got to do it as a unit as well.”
Anthony led the Knicks with 30 points and seven rebounds while Chandler, in his second game since missing six weeks with a broken leg, added eight points and six boards. Chandler also missed one free throw with 25.6 seconds left that would have closed the deficit to three. The Knicks had trailed by 19 with 6:12 left to play.
Bargnani was a non factor in his first game since his ill-advised shot in the final seconds of Wednesday’s win nearly cost the Knicks a victory. On Saturday, Bargnani went 1-for-5 with three points and two rebounds in 23 minutes.
The Knicks’ starting backcourt of Iman Shumpert and Beno Udrih shot a combined 3-for-13, which forced Woodson to go with J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. during the Knicks’ frantic comeback. Each backup scored 16 points.
The Knicks play Monday in Orlando before returning Christmas Day against Oklahoma City, which owns the NBA’s best record. Things may only get worse.
“I don’t think it’s nothing that has to do with basketball at this point,” Anthony said of losing at home. “I think it is in our heads, it’s a mental part of it. As individual players, we got to get out of our own mind, our own head. Just start, I don’t know what you go to do, but just start having fun once again and playing basketball and not trying to worry about too many other things that are going on out there.”