GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Earlier in the season, the Knicks credited their communication as a big reason why they were able to keep opponents in the low 90s. But after the Knicks' lost to the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night, allowing more than 100 points once again, Knicks said their communication on defense has disappeared recently.
Could Rasheed Wallace's absence have something to do that? Coincidentally, in the past nine games he's sat out with a stress reaction and chronic condition in his left foot, the Knicks have gone 4-5.
"We miss him a lot," Mike Woodson said after Wednesday's practice. "I mean, that was one of the reasons of bringing him to New York. I know he brings that to the table and it becomes very effective. It's contagious when you've got one or two guys that are talking all the time."
Woodson said he did not know when Wallace will return.
The Knicks need that communication -- as well as better effort and rotations, which was taught during practice -- especially in first quarters.
"Eight of the 10 games that we've lost, we had bad starts in that first quarter," Woodson said. "That's not a good sign in terms of when you're losing games."
The Knicks have missed Raymond Felton's competitiveness to start games, and Woodson said he wants his guards and forwards to be more aggressive early on to fuel the team.
"I want it from every perimeter guy -- not just Kidd and Pablo," he said. "I'm talking about Ronnie and J.R. Everybody that's playing on that perimeter, we've got to start taking a little more pride personally in guarding that god darn basketball. That's going to be the key."
21 SHUMP STREET: On Wednesday, Iman Shumpert went through some individual contact and he was the point guard in non-contact, five-on-five drills focusing on pick-and-rolls. Woodson said he wasn't sure when Shump could take 5-on-5 contact.
Afterward, Shumpert worked on his 3-pointers. Shooting coach Dave Hopla has wanted him to jump less to improve the timing of his release. In addition, Hopla has appeared to be schooling Pablo Prigioni on speeding up his 3-point release. Previously, Prigioni looked to shoot almost too patiently and methodically. Now, he seems to have more of a quicker, fluid launch.
COPE-ING ON D: After practice, Chris Copeland worked briefly with three different coaches, and even head athletic trainer Roger Hinds, on pick-and-roll defense. Copeland's main focus has been that, as he's trying to improve his rotations. He said he's also been learning a lot from the team's seasoned bigs, including Wallace, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas.
WILL WHITE TAKE FLIGHT?: Has anybody noticed that James White is arguably the best dunker in the NBA? He can take off from beyond the foul line, while putting the ball through his legs mid-air -- among many other amazing acrobatics.
Soon, the team will likely make a pitch for White to be chosen for the All-Star dunk contest in Houston. After practice, Chris Smith yelled at White, "Hey, James, you gonna be in the dunk contest?" White nodded his head with a smile. We'll see what happens. If not, expect at least Steve Novak in the 3-point shootout.
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