Mike Woodson to lean on stars
NEW YORK -- Mike D'Antoni and his system are out, Mike Woodson is in and the New York Knicks' first practice with their interim head coach had the feel of training camp all over again.
"I just think he's going to utilize his leading scorers, myself and Carmelo," Stoudemire said of Woodson. "He's going to utilize us and take advantage of every opportunity out there on the court. We've been profound scorers all our careers, so he's going to make sure he takes advantage of that."
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Woodson didn't hesitate in saying the offense would be run through his two biggest stars. Thursday was Woodson's first chance to implement some of his own offensive sets, which involved more off-the-ball movement in the half court as opposed to D'Antoni's system, which was predicated on pick-and-rolls and pushing the pace.
"It's going to be different for sure," Stoudemire said. "Coach Woodson has his philosophy and his offensive schemes, so we've got to readjust to that. I think so far everyone's receiving it well. We're all excited about it and we can't wait to play within his offense."
Woodson said he plans to use Stoudemire more in the post and allow Anthony to do his work on the wing, where he is the most dangerous. Running the offense through Anthony and Stoudemire could mean fewer shots for point guard Jeremy Lin, who carried the team to seven straight wins in mid-February while Anthony was sidelined with a groin strain.
"We're going to use more post-ups," Lin said. "I don't know if the shot distribution is going to be any different. I think the way that we get the shots is going to be different."
Lin said after Wednesday's blowout win over Portland that, including the D-League, he probably had seen six or seven different offensive systems over the past year and a half. He will just have to make another adjustment.
"I've got to continue to be aggressive, but it's going to be in different ways," Lin said. "Different ways to initiate the offense, different ways to score and create. It's going to be definitely a change. There will be challenges for all of us."
D'Antoni's offense always appeared perfect for scorers since everyone had an equal right to shoot. But Anthony struggled to find his place in the system and Stoudemire never found the pick-and-roll success that made him a huge star in Phoenix with Steve Nash or even last season in New York with Raymond Felton. With Stoudemire's and Anthony's offensive numbers significantly lower this season, they are ready to embrace something new.
Stoudemire is averaging 17.7 points per game. The only times he averaged less than 20 points were his rookie season (13.5) and when he injured his knee in the 2005-06 season as a Sun. Anthony is averaging 21.1 points per game, his lowest average since his second season (20.8).
The pressure on the Knicks hasn't dissipated with D'Antoni's departure. It has just shifted toward the players and particularly New York's biggest scorers.
"It's everybody's ballclub," Woodson said after practice Thursday. "I want everybody to feel comfortable. When I put a guy in the game, he's got a shot. I want him to feel comfortable about making that shot. But I want everybody to know, when it comes to nut-cutting time and I've got a big shot, I'm going to Melo and Amare and guys that have done it.
"A lot of these guys are still young and they're trying to figure it out. Those guys have been around the block a number of times and they've done it, so they'll be the go-to guys down stretch."
Chris Hunt is a contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
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