The Knicks – now 7-17 and 13th in the Leastern Conference – have fallen victim to poor roster construction, injuries, selfish play and bad luck, none of which could be pinned on Woodson.
Not anymore. Monday’s 102-101 home loss to Washington gets dropped squarely in Woodson’s lap. And the next thing dropped in his lap may be a pink slip.
The final seconds of Monday’s game were hectic, frantic, frenetic and helter-skelter. The sellout crowd of 19,812 was on its feet, and everyone was wondering what would happen next. Except Woodson, of course.
New York led, 101-100, with 24.2 seconds left. Washington had the ball, but the Knicks had a foul to give. The Knicks did not foul, or even attempt to do so. And Wizards guard Bradley Beal – who was on fire in the fourth quarter – drove right by Beno Udrih toward an unprotected rim for a layup and a 102-101 lead with 6.9 seconds left.
So the Knicks knew they could have fouled but didn’t?
“We were very aware. We talked about it in the timeout,” Knicks guard J.R. Smith said. “We all knew. We just didn’t take the foul.”
“We knew we had a foul to give but Beno opened the floodgates,” Woodson said. “It happened so fast.”
Beno opened the floodgates? What exactly does that mean? Allow Beal to explain.
“They wanted me to run a pick-and-roll with (Marcin) Gortat, so my first instinct was to reject the screen and go baseline if I had it,” Beal said. “There was absolutely nobody there.”
“I don’t think they were on the right page defensively,” Gortat said. “I don’t know what they were trying to do. They screwed up; I’m happy Bradley scored.”
The Knicks had three timeouts but, as Gortat said, they didn’t know what they were trying to do.
Instead of calling a timeout, regrouping and advancing the ball to midcourt, Udrih made a one-foot inbounds pass to Carmelo Anthony, who nonchalantly started dribbling upcourt, expecting Woodson to use a TO. Except Woodson was lost in the moment and did not call a timeout.
“I probably should have taken the timeout at the end,” Woodson said, in the understatement of the week. “Beno grabbed it and the ball was in Melo’s hands before I could even react.”
Woodson has over 30 years of coaching experience and couldn’t react in time? How many late-game situations has he been in during practices and preseason, regular season and postseason games? All he had to do was call a timeout and regroup, especially considering the Knicks looked so lost and confused on the previous few possessions.
“I should have reacted a lot sooner once the ball went through the bucket, so that is on me,” Woodson said. “And then I didn’t call the timeout so I gotta take the heat for that.”
Smith said the players have to accept some of the blame.
“We knew we had three timeouts,” he said. “We can’t put everything in coach’s hand because he’s out there thinking and reacting like we are.”