- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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It seems that everyone, from Mike Woodson on down, is searching for ways to clean up the Knicks' porous defense.
On Wednesday night, J.R. Smith offered his take, hinting that the Knicks' need to improve their effort on D.
"We haven’t been that defensive team that we started off the season as. We were aggressive. Everybody was communicating. Everybody was excited to play. It just hasn’t been like that the last 10, 12 games," Smith said after the Knicks' loss to Toronto.
He's right, by the way.
Over the last 10 games, the Knicks rank 23rd in opponent field goal percentage (47 percent) and 20th in defensive efficiency, a measure of points allowed per 100 possessions. They ranked sixth and fourth, respectively, in those categories after the first nine games of the season.
So, what do they have to do to fix it?
We'll let Smith take it from here.
"Defense is all mental, whether you want to do it or not. Just putting forth the effort out there," he said.
The Knicks' sixth man -- along with others in the locker room -- said his teammates will benefit from the five-day All-Star break.
"[We can] go home or go [on vacation] and then see what type of team we really want to be," he said.
AMAR'E A BIT OFF: In his first 20 games back from offseason knee surgery, Amar'e Stoudemire has been excellent, scoring 13.6 points on 56 percent shooting in 22.8 minutes.
But he's slipped a bit over his last two games, scoring an average of 9.5 points on 36 percent shooting.
The Knicks have been outscored by 16 in Stoudemire's 43 minutes on the floor over the past two games -- both losses.
But the Knicks' $100 million man isn't ready to panic. He said on Wednesday night that he missed a few gimmes against Toronto.
"A couple of easy shots I normally make, normally go in, tonight they didn't fall for me," Stoudemire said.
BOWLED OVER: The Knicks raised $280,000 for the Garden of Dreams charity on Monday during their annual bowling event at Chelsea Piers.
1dIan O'Connor, ESPN Senior Writer