Woodson's game plan goes south out West

LOS ANGELES -- Whenever the New York Knicks lose, coach Mike Woodson is usually ridiculed for many of his suspect coaching decisions.

More often than not, he deserves it. Not Tuesday night, though.

The Knicks’ defense, by any objective measure, was atrocious against the Los Angeles Lakers in their 127-96 loss.

“I thought the plan was perfect starting the game,” Woodson said. “And then [the Lakers] went to the bench and they came out blazing. We couldn’t control them and they got back into the game, and we couldn’t catch them.”

The Knicks gave up 127 points, including 87 in the second and third quarters combined, and 18 3-pointers to the Lakers, allowing them to shoot 57.8 percent overall.

The lapse came after holding the Lakers to just 14 points and 27.8 percent shooting in an impressive defensive effort the first quarter. The Lakers torched the Knicks for 113 points in the final three quarters.

“They executed their offense well,” Tyson Chandler said. “Their ball movement -- the ball was flying all over the place. They were driving and kicking and kind of putting us in multiple spots. Especially in transition. It seemed like every shot we took and missed started a fast break for them. We kind of couldn’t stop the bleeding.”

After the game, several Knicks even defended Woodson, claiming he had an elaborate game plan to stymie Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense, but they seemed to tune him out.

“Attention to detail is very important,” Amar'e Stoudemire said. “Woody gives us a strategy before the game. ... I guess we didn’t pay attention to what the coaching staff was saying, and [the Lakers] took advantage of it.”

On March 3, Woodson opted to insert Stoudemire and J.R. Smith into the starting lineup against the Detroit Pistons amid a six-game losing streak. The result? Another loss.

Since then, however, the Knicks have won eight of their last 10 games, which is remarkable regardless of how easy their schedule was.

The new starting lineup -- which, at least on paper, is the Knicks’ most talented lineup -- was outscoring opponents by 13.4 points per 100 possessions heading into the Lakers debacle. Stoudemire, in particular, had been on a tear, averaging 17.8 points on 58.9 percent shooting, 6.6 rebounds and 0.9 blocks over that span.

The Knicks had found a formula that worked. The playoffs were a legitimate possibility.

Then, a near collapse against the Philadelphia 76ers. After that, an actual collapse against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tonight, blown out by the lowly Lakers.

The Knicks have been a bottom-five defense for most of the year, and currently rank 25th in defensive rating. To no surprise, the five teams below them are in the lottery -- where the Knicks are likely headed.