Mike Woodson has talked almost ad nauseam over the last two weeks about finishing no worse than 9-2 over the 11 games before the All-Star break.
Reaching that goal almost seemed a given the way his Knicks had played heading into last night’s game against the Wizards, where the visitors carried a five-game winning streak into the Verizon Center. But now reaching that goal isn’t such a certainty after a 106-96 loss against one of the worst teams in the league — a loss Woodson called “awful across the board.”
The Knicks must now win their three remaining games to meet the goal set by their head coach or risk entering the break feeling like failures.
“The good thing behind this is we’re still on pace to reach our goal,” Woodson said, trying to bring some perspective to an otherwise dismal performance. “We have to win these next three [games] to go into the break 9-2. If we can do that, I’ll sleep better over the break.”
He probably didn’t get much sleep after last night’s game considering how poorly the Knicks performed. Their defense couldn’t contain the speedy John Wall, who led six Wizards in double-figure scoring with 21 points. Washington (13-35) shot 53.2 percent from the field and 11-of-20 from 3-point range. Most importantly, they outscored the Knicks 36-23 in the fourth quarter.
“We were flat,” Woodson said.
The Knicks (31-16) are at Minnesota tomorrow before home games against the Clippers on Sunday and the Raptors on Wednesday. In the grand scheme of things, finishing 9-2 before the break doesn’t assure anything. But as much as Woodson has harped about reaching the mark, falling short amid a loss to the Wizards would leave a bad taste after what has been a good first half to the season.
But give Woodson credit for putting so much emphasis on finishing strong. Lapses like the Knicks had last night might be more frequent without that type of motivation, manufactured or otherwise. At least they have something to play for.
First-half goals within reach despite hiccup
New York Post | Feb 7