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Opening Tip: Where's the perimeter D?

1/29/2013

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

Today's Burning Question: What's up with the Knicks' perimeter D? What can be done to improve it?

The Knicks coaching staff breaks down film of every game, looking for aspects on either end of the floor that need to be cleaned up.

They didn't have to look too hard to find a glaring issue in the last two games.

New York's defense -- particularly on the perimeter -- has been pretty bad over the past two games.

New York's opponents have shot 55 percent from the field in the last two games and scored 10 more points per 100 possessions than the team's season average.

In other words, an EZ Pass terminal is more effective at getting stops than the Knicks.

Mike Woodson and several players pointed to a porous pick-and-roll defense as one reason for the general let down on D.

"I thought the other night we got exposed a little bit out front along with the Philly game," Woodson said after Tuesday's practice. "...It’s just guys being up and guys committing on the ball, not begging for help. That’s the name of the game. You’ve got to take pride in guarding your man who has the ball."

Point guards in particular have had a field day with the Knicks of late.

Philly's Jrue Holiday had a career-high 35 points last Saturday. Atlanta's Jeff Teague got to the rim at will en route to a 27-point night last Sunday.

That stretch coincides with the return of Raymond Felton.

It would be easy to place blame on Felton, who is still working the rust off after missing five weeks with a fractured pinky.

But that would be overly simplistic.

The point guard issue also speaks to a lack of communication on the perimeter, which was a strong-suit of this team earlier in the season.

But the Knicks' aren't defending on the perimeter with the same fervor that they showed in their 6-0 start.

Just look at how well point guards have fared against New York: they average nearly 19 shot attempts per game on an effective 50.7 field goal percentage -- the highest opponent production per position against the Knicks, according to 82games.com.

Part of that can be traced to the point guard's ability to penetrate on the pick-and-roll. Part of it is the Knicks' failing to stop penetration with help defense.

Either way, Woodson isn't happy about it.

"I’m not one for excuses," the coach said when asked if injuries played a role in the Knicks' struggles against the pick-and-roll. "You watch film. You’ve been around since the beginning of camp. You’ve got to do what’s asked of you from a defensive standpoint."

Question: What do you think is the biggest problem with the Knicks perimeter defense right now? How can it be cleaned up?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.