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Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Novak, Copeland could battle for minutes

By Jared Zwerling

Steve Novak makes his biggest impact on the Knicks' offense in two main ways. One is that his presence opens up lanes for his teammates, which Mike Woodson discussed on ESPN New York 98.7 FM on Tuesday.

"When opposing teams play us, they know he can make shots, so they glue to him," Woodson said. "But what it's done offensively for us some is open up other doors for other guys to make plays, because if he's on the back side of a pick and roll, and you don't leave the roll guy, he's open."

Chris Copeland and Steve Novak
Tag team? No, Chris Copeland and Steve Novak will likely compete for playing time.
The second is obviously Novak's ability to make 3-pointers. But that hasn't been happening lately on a consistent basis. Woodson hasn't helped free him up through designed plays. As it is, Novak doesn't excel off the dribble.

After the All-Star break, Woodson said he will address getting Novak more looks. While this isn't the first time the coach has said that, he recognizes Novak's importance in helping to fuel the team's offensive flow.

"When we're playing open and freely like that, and he's getting shots and J.R. (Smith) is getting shots, and the ball is moving around, it just helps us offensively," Woodson said.

Depending on what happens next, Chris Copeland is waiting in the wings. Like Novak, he's a big forward who can hit 3s, but he can create his own shot. While both are weaker defenders, Woodson said Copeland could eventually see more minutes for his versatile scoring.

"A possibility," he said. "The only thing I think is holding Cope back is his ability not to defend either. I think he does a little bit more offensively."

"My teammates believe in me when I'm out there, so that's a blessing," Copeland told ESPNNewYork.com on Tuesday. "They respect my game and what I've done to get here. They push me hard."

Regularly after practices, his veteran teammates and the coaching staff work with him to drive home defense, and to help him refine his scoring in the low post. After Tuesday's practice, Amar'e Stoudemire and assistant Herb Williams were both going over fake and footwork strategies with the rookie.

"I'm learning every day," Copeland said. "I'm trying to grab as much as I can through this situation, playing or not playing. The next time people see me, I want them to just be like, 'Oh, he's different. He's got some new moves.' I learn from Melo, I learn from Amar'e and Tyson (Chandler) about defensive schemes."

While Copeland has gone from starting one night to not playing at all in another, he said that hasn't affected him because playing overseas helped him adjust to life out of his comfort zone. He said his goal is to "grow big time over the break," and he can't wait to get back on the court for the fans, who sometimes chant his name in the fourth quarter.

"New York has really, really been so good to me, man, despite the ups, downs, playing, not playing," he said. "It's unbelievable to hear that. No disrespect to the people in Belgium, but to be at the Garden ... they're behind me all the way."

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