Woody: I'll settle on starting 5 ... eventually

Mike Woodson's goal, eventually, is to have a consistent starting five. It doesn't sound as if he'll be settling on one any time soon, though.

Before the season opener, Woodson said that he would base his lineups on the opponent.

On Wednesday against Milwaukee, the coach trotted out a two-point guard lineup with Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni in the backcourt and Carmelo Anthony at power forward.

The Knicks had great success with that outfit last season, going 13-0 between mid-March and early April.

On Thursday against Chicago, which employs a much bigger front line than Milwaukee, Woodson decided to switch things up. He went with Iman Shumpert at shooting guard, Anthony at small forward and 7-footer Andrea Bargnani at power forward.

Woodson said in the preseason he would prefer to start a traditional lineup with Shumpert at shooting guard and Anthony at small forward. He hinted Thursday that he's still leaning that way. But he needs to see more from that lineup before he settles on it.

"I would love to get to that point [where the Knicks have one starting lineup]," Woodson told reporters in Chicago. "We haven't been together that long. We experimented a little with it in the exhibition games, but not big minutes where you can actually feel good about if it's going to work or not work.

"Eventually, we'll play enough big teams in the East and some in the West and we'll see if it works."

It makes sense that New York would want to match up against bigger teams to give itself an opportunity to compete for rebounds. But it's hard to ignore how well the Knicks played with a small-ball lineup with Anthony at power forward last season.

There's another factor to consider: Both Woodson and Tyson Chandler have said that it's easier to play defense when there is a set player rotation.

So if Woodson continues to shift his lineup on a game-to-game basis, you wonder if it may affect the Knicks' ability to get stops.

LEARNING THE 'HARD' WAY: Woodson and the rest of the Knicks have been impressed with Tim Hardaway Jr. Woodson likes the rookie so much he played him over Bargnani in the fourth quarter Thursday.

Bargnani sat for the final nine minutes of the game. Hardaway was on the floor for the majority of them.

The Knicks' first-round pick finished with 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting in 27 minutes.

“I’m just reading what the defense gives you," Hardaway told reporters in Chicago. “A lot of teams are focusing on Melo and Shump when he’s attacking. It’s just my job to take open shots."

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