Hamilton: Against Wizards, Mike Woodson failed his Knicks

Moke Hamilton, NBA Analyst

It is not whether you win or lose, it is how you play the game. Even in the pros, that old adage holds true.

As the New York Knicks flounder and burrow themselves deeper into the abyss, as they enter into laughingstock territory with at-times ridiculously predictable offensive sets, the coaching that this team has been on the receiving end of reached the level of absurd in Monday night’s 101-102 home loss to the Washington Wizards.

With questionable defensive assignments and a critical misunderstanding of a rule, Mike Woodson may have cost his team a game and himself a job.

Mike WoodsonSomewhere between the end of the second quarter and the 7:32 mark of the third quarter, J.R. Smith found his shooting stroke and shot 5-for-8 from the field over the game’s final 20 minutes.

But somewhere between there and the end of the game, Woodson forgot that he was a head coach in the NBA and that he is not only supposed to put his players in a position to succeed, but also to know the rules.

With the Knicks reeling and the team entering Monday night’s loss at 7-16, a win over the Wizards would have gone a long way toward easing some of the tension that has enveloped the Knicks.

Instead, Woodson stared down into the deep hole that the Knicks have dug for themselves, thought about it for a second or two (or didn’t) and then jumped in.

After his team valiantly erased a seven-point deficit with just under six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, one of the more feel-good wins of the season disappeared faster than Bradley Beal did when he turned the corner on Beno Udrih for the game’s winning basket.

That actually happened, but not before Beal morphed into Reggie Miller, scoring 14 fourth quarter points.

With the Knicks leading by three, 100-97, Beal — who has already scored nine points in the quarter and single-handedly kept the Wizards around — pulled up and drilled a 26-foot three-pointer to knot the game at 100.

With 12 fourth quarter points to that moment, Beal had taken over the game and became the one Wizard that the Knicks could not afford to allow to beat them, but that is exactly what Woodson did.

With two timeouts remaining, a foul to give and a one-point lead after Udrih split a pair of free-throws, Woodson, with the game on the line, failed his team.

Trailing 101-100, the Wizards called timeout and coach Randy Wittman drew up the simplest of plays. Beal received a pass from John Wall after coming off of a Trevor Ariza screen and was all alone, isolated against Udrih on the left elbow. Marcin Gortat, being guarded by Andrea Bargnani, came to set a screen to Beal’s right, but Beal, having shredded the Knicks’ pick-and-roll coverage all throughout the fourth quarter, knew he could easily take Udrih off the dribble and did not even pretend to want to use Gortat’s screen.

Bargnani, obviously expecting Beal to use the screen, was nowhere near Beal once he turned the corner on Udrih, and Iman Shumpert was too far out of the play to disrupt Beal’s beeline to the basket.

Great players make great shots and great plays. In pro basketball, there are times when coaches employ every strategy imaginable and are just beaten by better coaches or better players. It happens.

However, the decision to stick with Udrih on Beal is one that cost the Knicks the game.

With the Wizards calling timeout, the correct play for Woodson was to have Shumpert guard Beal and Smith guard Wall. It was abundantly clear that Udrih did not have the lateral quickness to stick with the Wizards perimeter players. In that situation, Metta World Peace (who had played only four minutes) or Amar’e Stoudemire would have made much more sense simply because Beal had been the best player on the floor to that point.

Playing without a point guard, with timeouts, the worst-case scenario for Woodson would have been that the Wizards score, he call a timeout, and reinsert Udrih.

It is called “offense-defense,” and NBA teams do it all the time, especially in the waning moments of games.

Subbing Udrih out, in some way, would have resulted in an unfavorable matchup for the Knicks, somewhere, but as long as your best perimeter defenders — Shumpert and Smith — were guarding Wall and Beal, that is all you could have asked for, given the situation.

nba_u_shumpert_cr_286Instead, predictably, Beal beat Udrih and beat the Knicks.

Nevermind the fact that the Knicks had a foul to give that they never used. That can be rationalized.

It is what occurred immediately thereafter and what Woodson said when it was all said and done that was the talk of the town after the game.

After Beal’s go-ahead basket with 6.9 seconds remaining and the Knicks trailing by one point, Udrih (who, again, should not have been on the floor) immediately inbounded the ball to Anthony.

By rule, once the ball is inbounded after a made basket, it cannot be advanced if a timeout is called. However, if a timeout is called in such a situation, a team can then call a second timeout and advance the ball, even after it is put in play.

Players do not normally have a firm grasp of the rules, but coaches should. And in that situation, Woodson should have signaled for a timeout and then used his second in order to advance the ball.

Instead, after Anthony received Udrih’s inbounds pass, Woodson sat idly by while Anthony—clearly confused and resembling a deer in the headlights—calmly trotted up court and heaved a desperation 25-footer that had no shot.

It was obvious that the Knicks were not prepared on what they should do in the event that Beal scored on the game’s second to last play. Afterward, it was also obvious that Woodson forgot his NBA rulebook at home.

Looking disheveled and sounding defeated, Woodson stated the obvious.

“I probably should have called timeout at the end,” he said to the assembled media.

“Beno grabbed it and the ball was in Melo’s hands before I could even react and I should have reacted a lot sooner once the ball went through the bucket so that is on me.”

And with six simple words, Anthony revealed that his team was ill-prepared.

“I think we expected a timeout,” he said before later turning down an opportunity to pile the blame on Woodson.

“No, we weren’t,” Anthony said when asked whether or not Woodson instructed the team to call for a timeout in the event that Wizards scored. “If he said it was his fault,” Anthony said with a pause, “then there’s no need for me to talk about that.”

Although Anthony also said that players should know game situations, this type of gaff falls squarely on the head coach.

Seemingly unbeknownst to Woodson, once the ball was inbounded and the Knicks were confused, his final two timeouts could have been used to give the Knicks one final shot to win the game.

Aside from the questionable rotations and defensive assignments, here, Woodson proved himself to not have a grasp of one of the game’s more simple—but most important—rules.

For a head coach in this league, that is inexcusable. And in this instance, Woodson proved, it is not whether you win or lose, it is how you play the game.

Or, in his case, how you coach the game. Here, quite simply, he failed.

With the loss, the Knicks fall to 7-17 and coupled with the Brooklyn Nets’ 130-96 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night, fall two games behind their crosstown rivals in the Atlantic Division.

And now, Woodson has fallen behind head coach Jason Kidd for the title of best NBA coach in New York City, because I’m pretty sure even Kidd knows the rule to which Woodson was oblivious.


Moke Hamilton is the NBA Analyst for SNY.tv and, along with Lead Writer Harris Deckers, hosts the Knicks Blog Podcast each and every Wednesday. Follow him on Twitter: @MokeHamilton




52 comments
Jason C
Jason C

The most predictable offensive sets in the NBA. This is old news it was the same deal Atlanta. 

Carmelo is very wiling to the share the ball, its the offensive sets not Melo down the stretch. 

Melo went from the most efficient 4th quarter player in the NBA through out his career to 1-18 in clutch moments under Woodson, coincidence ? NO , its coaching. The last 4 minutes of the game is pure ISO ball let Melo bail us out and he does not rest him enough so hes worn out down the stretch. That is  coaching ! his rotations are terrible and he is loyal to a player that deserves no loyalty and does not know how to develop Shumpert , he does not put the kid in a position to succeed. 

Woodson was out coached in the Indiana series last year as he was during his playoffs run in Atlanta. 

What he did yesterday is inexcusable. Unless the Knicks o on a major run very soon , this dude is done. 

rico
rico

Knicks played well last night until the last 24 seconds. Woodson had brain-freeze, as did the rest of the squad.  It was sloppy and horrific but at least they played a good game.



JCFromCNJ
JCFromCNJ

Everybody has an off night. No doubt he made a few mistakes.


But, it's not as bad as say … the Dallas Cowboys throwing the ball up 12 points when they are getting 7 yes a carry. That's being aware and stupid.


This is more like a brain fart, they happen! 

ronzo
ronzo

How many games per year do you think a coach is the reason for a win or loss?  My guess is 5...so Woodson just messed up 20% of the games he has control over. At best, he can now only score an 80%

lindro88
lindro88

Everyone agrees that Woodson F'd up last night.  What no one is bothering to mention is that Carmelo Anthony, the franchise player, could have called a timeout on his own.  He clearly was waiting for one to be called.  Once he realized that it wasn't happening, its on him to make that call. 

knickster
knickster

When was the last time Carmelo made a "clutch" shot? I say it: he deserves no more that 17 millions per on a 3-year contract. He is NOT a superstar, but a great offensive player - the rest of his game is pretty mundane.

Keep him ONLY if the price is right.

nncyel
nncyel

Let's look at the alternative scenario. Time out gets called. Knicks inbound the ball to Melo who is 25' from the basket. He fakes left, he fakes right, he pulls up from 25', shot goes off the rim. That's the Knicks current end-of-game play option. So, although, it looks increasingly like Woodson deserves to be fired, I'm not sure Knicks calling a time out would have made a difference. Their end-of-game plays stink. Not sure whether that's Woodson's fault or Melo's, but I'm pretty sure Melo would not be happy if anyone other than him takes the last shot of the game.

Seth Nadler
Seth Nadler

I think the only thing any knick fans want to hear is Woody being fired today.  However we all know that it's very unlikely.  Woody is with CAA, and unless there is a new coach with CAA the knicks would rather keep the puppet in charge.  The knicks aren't about W's or L's, they are all about the CAA agenda..

tifoso6
tifoso6

When I got up this morning I expected to read that Woodson had been fired. His lousy coaching cost the game: 1) failure to put his best defensive players on the floor for the

last washington possession; 2)failure to take a foul and 3) failure to call a time out.

This is madness.

Kvdaone
Kvdaone

why these Toronto clowns want a 1st rd pick for Lowry is beyond me but DO NOT GIVE HARDAWAY JR TO THESE SUCKAS!!

Kvdaone
Kvdaone

Woodson plays favoritism and seniority at a time when we need results.Everybody and their grandmother knows that Toure Murray may be a short term answer to the pg position before the trade. Give him some time on the flr. Considering the current record, what the hell can we really lose.

chuco
chuco

Fire woodson he did not put his team in a position to win he should have put murry in and called the time out 

Kvdaone
Kvdaone

Everybody gets on tv and backs Woodson. JVG, Steve Kerr, Stephen A. Im appauled by this. We have a vet team and with some young talent and a star,yet we cant beat teams like the Bobcats, Philly, and Boston without Rondo. This has got to be the most disgusting season in Knick history. Not just because of the win/loss column but because we have talent and we look like garbage. If I were Melo I would leave this HELL HOLE NOW. Yet the Broadway Bully hasnt even requested a trade. P.S.....If you bring Pau Gasol to NY for Tyson, Dolan has to give me a 1 on 1

Kvdaone
Kvdaone

Melo backed Woody even though he knows in his heart a time out shouldve been called. No rocket science behind this. This team has needed a pg since Melo got here. Felton comes in over weight every yr. He cant stay in front of any pgs and the worst part is, HES NOT EVEN A SET UP ARTIST! This is what Woody condones because if he didnt, it wouldnt be.

danewyorkr
danewyorkr

A coaches job is to simply give your team a chance to win. Woodson failed all season to prepare this team to face an opponent. I don't know how he continues to receive support on this blog by these so called intelligent fans. The look on Melo's face says it all about how the team feels about this brainless coach.

Kvdaone
Kvdaone

Dolan must want us to start throwin things in Garden. The management are clowns! 54-28 last yr. This season is still early and we are already close to a 20gm loss margin. If youre gonna keep Woody then MAKE A DAMN TRADE ALREADY!! Stop embarrassing your star player. JR comes out the slump and Woody blows the gm....smh! Woody has been embarrassing all season and Ive been tellin ppl this. Anytime your team plays 4 out 1 in without Tyson on the flr....Youre asking to be out rebounded and youre also showing that you prefer your team to continue you to shoot no matter how horrible they do.

zebeto
zebeto

this guy has been such a letdown.............

Juan Maldonado
Juan Maldonado

Did yall know that chris smith on Saturday scored like 28 points n had 4 assist n jeremy tyler had like 22 points... but i couldnt believe the stats when i saw it... i said "Chris smith?" Lol

lindro88
lindro88

Knicks should be calling Doug Collins.

lindro88
lindro88

I can't recall watching a coach freeze in the final moments of a game the way Woodson did tonight. Regardless of how flawed this roster might be, the fact is this team is unprepared just about every

night. They start games slowly, finish quarters poorly, and tonight was literally an embarrassment. It was as if Woodson just tuned out. Last year Jason Kidd would have called timeout and bailed out his coach. This years team has such a low basketball IQ, it's really imperative that they have a coach who manages the game better.

Brandon Cordovi
Brandon Cordovi

Woodson needs to go. I have never seen such poor coaching before in my life.  I have no idea why woodson made the defensive pairings the way they were made no sense.  I have also never seen a coach with 6 seconds left with two timeouts allow his player to walk the ball up the court and chuck up a terrible shot.  I also dont get why Hardaway Jr. isnt starting yet when he is the only consistent two guard we have that can actually get the ball to go into the bucket.  Bottom line is anyone can do better then Woodson is doing now and enough is enough....FIRE WOODSON

Davnia Chew
Davnia Chew

another PG down tonight ... we have a large NBA payroll ... Owner getting  involved with trade discussions

what else can go wrong this season?

tommy2b
tommy2b

I know exactly what he was thinking.  He was going to draw up an "iso melo" play but when he saw melo had the ball already he thought "ok, got what i wanted.  Make it Melo!"

joeknix
joeknix

@lindro88 100% disagree.  If you've ever played basketball on a team you know that timeouts are not your job to manage.  It's up to the coach to tell the players what to do in that situation.  When the Knicks were in the huddle before Beal made the winning shot Woodson should have told his players two things #1 We have a foul to give.  #2 if they score call a timeout.  Done. 


When Melo had the ball in his hands Woody still could call the timeout but he didn't.  This is on the coach not Melo.

lindro88
lindro88

@knickster He didn't have a chance to make one last night.  If you want to get on Melo, get on him for not being smart enough to call a timeout on his own.  

georock
georock

@nncyel yeah but by firing woodson you can get a coach that, you know, calls good plays, or any plays, or shows passion, or that his head is in fact not lodged in his ass

lindro88
lindro88

@Kvdaone Woddy blew it last night, but Melo could have called the timeout himself.  Can you think of any "superstar" who would dribble slowly up the court, looking half confused and than launch an off balance 25 foooter?  You think Chris Paul would have done that?  

dullah
dullah

#shutyodumbassup... your condescendence makes you sound like a bitch...

Eric Londregan
Eric Londregan

then go write articles somewhere you troll.

also, your shump excuse is weak - I'm pretty sure any number of switches (which may or may not have happened) out of a p&r would have been better than an ISO blow-by with udrih on beal. the point moke makes about offense-defense subs is pretty sound so lay off.

knickster
knickster

It's much simpler than that: these things happen often to bad teams. The knicks are a bad team. Coach is bad, roster is bad.

lindro88
lindro88

@OLD_KNICK How about Carmelo calling a timeout?  Do you think any other franchise player would allow a game to end that way?  Its on Woodson, but Melo could have taken it into his own hands and called a timeout.  

tommy2b
tommy2b

@OLD_KNICK you could see on the replays right after beal scored Beno starts yelling at Bargs... Also after the final shot Beno turns back to give it to him.  It looked like he was intentionally letting Beal go baseline expecting help.


Well, at least starting wednesday we'll have Tyson defending the paint again.  

VerySilentJay
VerySilentJay

@Jerry Gee 

Give it up and get a grip.

Right now no one's playing harder than Melo.

It's not his fault he follows his coach's instructions.

You bash on Woodson yet you fail tu understand Melo is only following team instructions.

Ridiculous comment.

ponzies86
ponzies86

@tommy2b Lakers, would've drew ISO play for Kobe, OKC for KD, T-Wolves for Love and the list goes on. Your top player gets the ball in those situations

lindro88
lindro88

@joeknix @lindro88 I agree with you that this is on the coach.  My point is that once it was clear no timeout was being called from the bench, instead of watching the clock dwindle down to 0, Melo has to either call a timeout on his own, or get the ball into the  front court a hell of a lot faster than he did.  He said after the game he was "waiting for the timeout" He is a 9 year player, a "franchise" player. He can't allow the game to end on an off balance 25 foot shot.  Thats all I am saying.  These aren't high school kids.  

knickster
knickster

Melo wanted the ball. Look at the replay on Youtube and you will see CLEARLY how he ASKS Udrih for the ball. He did not want a timeout, he wanted to take that last shot.

However, none of that is the reason for not wanting the Knicks to cripple themselves by giving an aging and deteriorating Melo a max contract he does not deserve. I base my position of the fact, before and during melo's performance in Denver and new York. He is not a superstar....

Chris
Chris

@lindro88 @OLD_KNICK Once the ball is inbounded, you  don`t get to move the ball to the front court, you get it where the to occurs.There were 3 bounces and no TO from the bench, the coach makes that decision  not the player. Melo is a player, Woody is the coach, what part don`t you understand. My players never called TOs without me saying so. If its not called its on the coach period, move on

lindro88
lindro88

@tommy2b @OLD_KNICK Having the team's worst help defender as the last line of defense was yet another blunder by Woodson.  Bargs can do one thing well on defense. Guard his man.  He is a better defender than I thought. He is also the worst off the ball defender on a team that includes Amare

lindro88
lindro88

@VerySilentJay @Jerry Gee Melo is playing hard, which he's supposed to do.  He also could have called a timeout last night.  No doubt Woodson is to blame for the way that game ended, but if you are a franchise player, a true superstar, you have to take things into your own hands.  Melo said he was waiting for a timeout to be called. Why was he slowly taking the ball up the court as the clock was running out?  Bottom line is he had to either call a timeout on his own, or  hurry the ball up the court and get a better shot.  He is supposed to be an elite player in this league.  I can't imagine too many elite players getting off a worse shot than he did.  Ive always been a fan of Carmelo, since his Cuse days.  I've now watched him daily for his entire time here and I can say that he is not a franchise player.  He is a great scorer, but he is not an elite all around player. 

tommy2b
tommy2b

He thought they were going to double him as soon as he crossed half-court so he was giving himself some time/room to find the open guy... unfortunately he guessed wrong and adjusted too late.

Chris
Chris

@Jerry Gee You understand very little about the coaching profession from your comments. The TO before the last play is where everything should have been spelled out. The Knicks huddles are a dysfunctional mess with Dumphony, now with Woodsen. This all mess is directly on the coach. Herb knows more about the game then this idiot. Note Herb is actually trying to coach as this fake freezes time after time. The fact that he is still on the bench is beyond belief. You are really non knowledgeable about basketball and body language

VerySilentJay
VerySilentJay

@Jerry Gee 

What are you supposed to do if your teammates are frozen, not knowing what to do, and your coach is clueless as to how to handle a situation with less than 7 seconds to go?

I'm sure you would've handled it like a true pro.

It's not about worshipping, it's about being real. He's no LBJ, he's no Kobe. Those who try to comparison don't get it. 

He's one of the best scorers in the league and by far our best player. If you can't see that then that's your issue.


Playing the point? As it stands, we have no playmakers with Prigioni out. With all the attention Melo gets, he's in a prime position to facilitate out of a double or a triple. He's playing his position just fine, far outrebounding other SF's of this league. With Woodson's very simple and one dimensional system, the ball movement starts with Melo. I'm assuming you at least know that. It's not that he's trying to play point, it's the way the system's been built.

Just like it was last season.

Go back and look.