Mike D'Antoni not panicking

NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks entered play against New Jersey on Saturday night having lost 11 of 13, falling woefully short of preseason expectations.

But coach Mike D'Antoni said he isn't panicked about his job security.

"You've got to do your job, you can't panic," D'Antoni, who is in the final season of a four-year contract, said before the Knicks beat the Nets 99-92. ".... We are who we are and we've got to get better."

With Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler on the roster, many expected the Knicks (9-15) to contend for one of the top spots in the Eastern Conference.

So far, the opposite has happened. New York suffered through a six-game losing streak last month and had lost the first two games of its set of back-to-back-to-back contests. The three-game set concluded Saturday night against New Jersey.

D'Antoni was asked before tip off on Saturday if his status as a lame-duck coach makes it difficult to avoid panicking.

"If I can do my job well, good things will happen. If we don't win, it'll happen," he said, in reference to losing his job. "So I'm not that worried about it, to be honest with you. ... That's one of the good things about being 60 years old, you don't have to worry too much."

There is no proof D'Antoni is in trouble because Knicks management hasn't spoken publicly since the season started. Donnie Walsh, the team president the last three seasons, regularly met with the media and always praised D'Antoni, but there's nobody to do that now.

Not that D'Antoni would want it.

"The great thing is you really don't have to read what people write. And I do like what (Toronto's Andrea) Bargnani said, when he said that criticism has two sides to it. One goes in one side and comes out the other," D'Antoni said.

"I'm doing and the players are doing the best they can do that we know, and we hope it works out. And our chemistry is pretty good, pretty solid on what we're doing and I think we're improving. We're getting close. After that, it's kind of up to the basketball gods and we'll see what happens."

Earlier this week, Anthony pledged support for his coach.

"Anytime teams are losing, that's the first thing that comes to mind, the coach. But we don't talk about that," Anthony said on Monday. "We support Mike 100 percent. He's here with us, we're here with him, and we're going to roll with that."

The Knicks have struggled all season long to gain cohesion on offense. D'Antoni, widely known as one of the top offensive minds in basketball, said on Saturday that the Knicks need to get more production from players other than Anthony and Stoudemire.

"You have to have (a) third, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth guy, 10th guy to come in and every once in a while win a game or every once in a while change it," the coach said. "We just haven't got that. If Melo and Amare haven't done it offensively, it doesn't get done. To be a really good team, you've got to have more than that so we've got go have guys step up."

The Knicks entered play Saturday ranked 24th in offensive efficiency, scoring 97.3 points per 100 possessions.

One reason? Anthony struggled with his shot last month, going 40-for-126 in his last six games while trying to play through wrist, thumb and ankle injuries. He entered Saturday averaging 25.6 points in the three games since returning from a two-game absence on Tuesday.

Many have noted that there is a larger issue with Anthony -- the star small forward doesn't seem to fit into D'Antoni's system. The coach's offense is at its most effective when there is continuous ball movement in an effort to find an open shot. Anthony, on the other hand, is among the league leaders in isolation plays during his time on the floor.

The Knicks also haven't found a suitable replacement for Chauncey Billups at point guard. Billups was amnestied to create enough cap room to sign Chandler as a free agent.

The team is hoping Baron Davis can help turn things around, but the 32-year-old point guard has yet to play a game for New York due to a back injury. He began practicing last week but has been limited due to lingering soreness.

As for players who are healthy, Stoudemire is struggling through one of the worst stretches of his career. He entered play Saturday shooting 44 percent from the field and averaging just 18.3 points per game. Last season, his first in New York, Stoudemire averaged 25.3 points on 50 percent shooting. Stoudemire had come on in recent games though, scoring 24 points per game on 53 percent shooting in his last three.

The Knicks have lost their last two games against Chicago and Boston by a combined five points, which has encouraged D'Antoni.

"It gives you hope," he said.

But the coach also noted that the Knicks' mounting losses have taken on a toll on the team.

"So far, we haven't got that winning attitude or spirit yet," he said, adding, "a lot of it is mental. ... When things start to go bad, you can feel the tension (and) until you start winning, that kind of goes away and you get a confidence as a team. We've got to kind of get there and you can get there by winning."

The coach also insisted that nothing would be gained by panicking at this point in the season.

"I'll run out there with my hair on fire (but) that's not going to help," he joked. "We've still got to play the game and win ... I might be panicking inside but I still believe in our guys."

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.