White on starting, Knicks' strategy

January, 30, 2013
1/30/13
6:31
PM ET
On Wednesday night against the Magic, James White is making his sixth start of the season. This time, it's to replace Jason Kidd, who's sidelined with a sore lower back.

White spoke with ESPNNewYork.com and shared some interesting thoughts on being called up to the first five:

[+] EnlargeJames White
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesJames White returned to the NBA this season after three years overseas.
How big is it for you when you start, especially knowing you're going to guard the best wing player?

That's the way I'm going to be able to get on the court -- to play defense. I think it's important to try to stay in the league to have a niche. Everybody can't be a 30-point scorer. I'm a lot different player here than overseas. I led the Italian league in scoring two years in a row.

Is it ever a challenge not playing in a few games and then starting?

The only way you can prepare for that is just continue to work on your game every day and get shots up. It's just repetition, so when you get in a game, it's not so much thinking; it's reaction.

Overall, how do you feel like you've progressed this season?

Of course, I had goals, like I wanted to start, I wanted to average this much, make this much of an impact. But honestly, it's a long season, and as the season has gone on, the game has slowed down to me a lot. It's harder for me to do the things I want to do and stuff like that because (of) playing time. But I just try to focus on the things I can do when I'm in there.

What have you learned about Mike Woodson's defensive schemes?

We have a set thing where you're supposed to be if this happens. It makes it a lot easier for everybody, honestly, because that's where you're supposed to be. A lot of times overseas, it's like freelance. There are no rules to defense.

How important is working on defense in practice?

I think that's really the key to our team. That's pretty much the basis of our practices -- 3-on-2, 3-on-1 stuff, fast-break drills and then we go through the shell. ... I think we had our best practice, honestly, the game before we went to the Celtics (on Jan. 24). It's hard during the season to get good practices in. It's even worse when you've got an older team.

What's the offense like?

It's the opposite of how I was saying on defense. You know how I said you've got to be here, you've got to be there? On offense, Woodson doesn't want you to play like robots. You've got to go out there and just play free. That's the only way to play. It allows you freedom, but you can't be out there missing shots. If you're going to make a move, you better make it your best move. But different guys got different freedoms, like I can't go out there and miss five straight. (Carmelo Anthony) can, but I can't do that.

You're obviously more of a slasher and dunker. Is it interesting to see how popular the 3-point shot has become?

Everything is set up for the 3. For us, say (Steve) Novak's in the game. Our offense is set up around the threat of Novak shooting a 3. People are so scared of him making a 3 that it opens up so much other stuff. People are so scared of the 3-pointer these days. It's such a threat.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 9.6
AssistsR. Felton 5.6
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2

NEW YORK CALENDAR