Woodson could be All-Star coach

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- If the Knicks are in first place in the Eastern Conference at the end of play on Sunday, Mike Woodson will get the nod to coach the conference's All-Star team.

Entering play Wednesday, the Knicks are 1½ games behind the Miami Heat for the top spot in the East.

It doesn't seem like Woodson's losing any sleep over coaching the team.

"If it happens, it happens. If not, I'm just going to go and rest, and think basketball and get ready for the final stretch," the coach said on Wednesday. "That's what it's all about."

If the Knicks edge the Heat in the East at the end of play Sunday (both teams have three games to play), Woodson would be the first Knicks coach since Jeff Van Gundy (2000) to coach the All-Star team.

That would give him an opportunity to coach some Knicks' rivals for one night.

Woodson smiled on Wednesday when asked if he'd play Miami's LeBron James for the entire game.

"I probably would," he said with a laugh.

Normally, coaches would make sure not to overuse any players in an All-Star Game as a professional courtesy.

Woodson was joking when he answered the question. We think.

RASHEED UNLIKELY TO PRACTICE THIS WEEK: Woodson said Sunday that he was hopeful to have Rasheed Wallace return to the practice floor this week. That isn't likely to happen.

"No," Woodson said Wednesday, when asked if he expected Wallace to practice this week. "He's still rehabbing. And we'll get through this week and see where we are next week with it and just go from there."

STAT-MELO-CHANDLER TRIO TO FINISH GAMES? Woodson said he wants to use the trio of Tyson Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony more often.

He suggested on Wednesday that that trio will be on the floor to close games. Due to injury, Woodson hasn't been able to establish a set five-man unit to finish games.

"Those things will all come to unfold when we're able to practice it and put them in that position throughout the course of the game," Woodson said. "And we got time."

The Knicks are outscoring opponents by an aggregate of 26 points when Chandler, Anthony and Stoudemire are on the floor, according to 82games.com. According to the website, that trio has been on the floor together for 91 minutes. ... Chandler (strained neck) will play against Orlando. ... Woodson has been critical of the Knicks' pick-and-roll defense of late. Here is what he wants his defenders to do against the pick and roll: "I want my bigs to be up and I want whoever's guarding the ball to take pride in getting over and guarding the ball. ... That's how we were doing it earlier in the year and we've got to get back to that. Quit begging for help."

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