Falling behind by 30 points at halftime in Indiana and losing by 34 wasn’t exactly what the Knicks had planned after the All-Star break. And after starting Amar'e Stoudemire in place of Iman Shumpert in the second half on Wednesday night, coach Mike Woodson addressed the possibility of shaking up his starting five after Thursday’s practice in Toronto.
“I really don’t know because as of late we’ve gotten off to such bad starts with that group,” said Woodson. “So I gotta really figure out if that’s what I really want to do. I’ll make that decision between now and tomorrow.”
With his team averaging a -4.3 first-quarter scoring margin -- seventh worst in the NBA -- over the course of their current three-game skid, Woodson was asked if he needed more offense than what Shumpert (11 points in the past four games) and Jason Kidd (21 points this month) are providing. Moving Kidd to the bench could facilitate Shumpert returning to his natural position of shooting guard.
“I’m not getting [the scoring] and I figure if we start out by playing defense, it’s not a problem -- you still have enough with Raymond and Melo to make a difference,” Woodson said. “But we’ve been fighting on both ends, we’re struggling to get stops and then we’re struggling to put the ball in the hole so I’m not one that’s just going to sit tight and say that’s okay. I gotta figure it out. If it means changing the lineup, then we have to do that.”
Stoudemire, as has been the case all season, expressed that he’s not concerned with whether or not he’s in the first five.
“You guys know me, I’m down for whatever,” he said. “It’s whatever it takes to win. I know what type of player I am and what type of player I can become. I’m steadily trying to improve every game, every practice, it’s going to happen. Again, it’s not my job to figure out the lineup, my job is to go out there and play as hard as I can and try to get us the win, so that’s what I’m going to do.”
Carmelo Anthony agreed.
“You can put anybody in that lineup ... if everybody’s not giving the effort, then that’s irrelevant," he said. "Like I said [Wednesday], it’s nothing about X’s and O’s that we’re doing, that we’re not doing, it’s just all about that extra effort -- just wanting to go out there and win games, wanting to go out there and lay it out there.”
The Knicks face the Toronto Raptors on Friday. Toronto had won five straight before a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, including a 92-88 win at Madison Square Garden just before the All-Star break. Regardless of whether or not there’s a change in the starting lineup, New York will be looking for a different energy at the outset than what they’ve shown of late.