'Fire Woodson' chants at MSG

NEW YORK -- The chants started in the third quarter. They weren't very loud and didn't pick up much steam.

But for the second time in three home games, Mike Woodson was serenaded with a brief "Fire Woodson" chant from the Garden faithful.

This one came in the middle of a 20-point loss in which New York allowed Atlanta to shoot 56 percent from the field.

"When that happens defensively, we've got to figure out who we are and right I don't know who we are," Woodson said after his team fell to 3-6. "That's on me."

Just how bad was the Knicks' defense on Saturday?

The Hawks hit 40 percent of their threes on Saturday and had eight scorers in double figures.

But the Hawks did most of their damage in the paint. Atlanta hit 10 shots within two feet of the rim.

"When you allow layups the only thing we can look at is effort," Iman Shumpert said.

The Knicks entered the season with the stated goal of being a top 10 defense in the NBA.

Right now, that seems pretty delusional.

New York entered play Saturday ranked 19th in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions. And it was 15th in opponent field goal percentage (44.9). Those numbers are probably going to look worse on Sunday morning.

"We're not getting it done from an effort standpoint," Carmelo Anthony said of the defense. "It's like we're not even trying right now."

It certainly didn't help that Metta World Peace and Tyson Chandler -- two of the team's top defenders -- were out due to injury on Saturday.

But that doesn't excuse what happened on Saturday night.

So you can dissect the pick and roll defense or perimeter rotations all you want. But the players in the locker room and the head coach believe the bigger issue is effort. And that's a pretty damning indictment.

"That's what it is at the end of the day," J.R. Smith said. "Effort on the defensive end."

If the Knicks don't figure out how to give maximum effort soon, the pocket of fans chanting for Woodson's job on Saturday night may just get their wish.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.