Opening Tip: Need to worry about defense?

Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.

Today's Burning Question: Mike Woodson is a little concerned about the Knicks' defense of late. Are you?

Through the first nine games, the Knicks' defense had been dominant, ranking in the top five in opponent field goal percentage and points allowed per game. But, as Mike Woodson noted on Tuesday, there's been a little "slippage" since then.

It became a concern in Game No. 12, when the Knicks allowed 131 points in a blowout loss to the Rockets.

And it continued on Monday against that same Rockets team, when the Knicks were blitzed for 56 points in the first half of a 109-96 loss.

After the game, Tyson Chandler said the Knicks got away from their principles on defense; they allowed Houston to penetrate at will, thereby creating open looks for the Rockets on the perimeter.

Chandler said the Knicks' stress always having 1 1/2 men -- not one man -- guarding the ball, which means that there should always be a help defender nearby to stem penetration.

On Monday against the Rockets, though, Chandler said Knicks defenders were too often left on an island.

"We were a step slow," Chandler said. "We didn't accomplish what Coach Woody put together."

After their strong start on defense, the Knicks have slipped to 17th in the league in defensive efficiency -- a measure of points allowed per 100 possessions. They're allowing opponents to shoot 45.7 percent from the field -- the 22nd highest total in the league.

"We’ve had some slippage," Woodson said, citing the team's lack of practicing time as a reason, not an excuse, for the recent defensive lapses. "... We watched tape today and I was very demanding in terms of the slippage that we’ve had as of late. We don't want to go that way. We want to continue to go back the other way where we were playing at a high level defensively. Right now, we look like we’re trying to outscore teams and that’s not good."

QUESTION: Given how the Knicks have looked on the defensive end lately, are you at all concerned? Or does it not matter to you because they have been winning games?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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