Mike D'Antoni worried about Knicks

Updated: March 15, 2011, 2:04 PM ET
By Ian Begley | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Knicks play the Pacers on Tuesday night, but Mike D'Antoni isn't worried about Indiana.

He's more concerned with his own team.

D'Antoni watched film of the Knicks' 106-93 loss to the Pacers on Monday morning and labeled it a "horror show."

"We just didn't play well," the Knicks coach said. "I don't think we had the right energy and we got frustrated and when we do that we just kind of revert back to just trying to beat people up on the offensive end."

That didn't work against Indiana, which broke a six-game losing streak against the Knicks despite playing without leading scorer Danny Granger. Point guard Chauncey Billups struggled mightily in his first game back from a six-game absence due to a deep left thigh bruise. He finished 4-of-14 from the field including 0-of-7 from beyond the arc. Backup Toney Douglas, who played well in Billups' absence, hit just one of his 12 attempts from the field on Sunday. In all, the Knicks shot 37 percent from the field.

"The ball didn't flow and we didn't move," D'Antoni said, pointing out some of the same chemistry issues that have affected New York at times since Carmelo Anthony arrived.

The Knicks had just 11 assists and 15 turnovers on Sunday. D'Antoni said the team was frequently "standing around and watching" Billups against Indiana.

He also noted thought that neither Billups nor Douglas looked comfortable in their respective roles now that the 34-year-old veteran is back in the fold.

When asked how long he expected it to take Douglas and Billups to get acclimated again, D'Anonti said "it should be done. We can't afford [to wait]."

He's right. With just 17 games remaining in the regular season, the clock is ticking.

The Knicks are 6-5 since they swung a three-team, 13-player trade to land Anthony on Feb. 22. They've lost twice to 12-win Cleveland and once to Indiana, whom they play again on April 10.

"We keep taking these little steps backwards and that's kind of frustrating but at the same time maybe it's inevitable," he said.

Any more steps backwards and the Knicks may stumble out of sixth place in the Eastern Conference. They are just a half-game ahead of seventh-place Philadelphia, which looked sluggish in a loss at Milwaukee on Saturday but should be fresh for its game against struggling Utah on Monday.

Looking ahead, seven of the Knicks' final 17 opponents are below .500. Philadelphia has 16 games remaining, eight of which are against teams with sub-.500 records.

But D'Antoni isn't worried about any of the Knicks upcoming games.

"It doesn't matter. Right now we're playing against the Knicks," he said.

To D'Antoni, Sunday night's debacle was an example of the "worst-case scenario" of what the Knicks' two superstars -- Anthony and Amare Stoudemire -- can produce on offense. He felt Stoudemire, Anthony and others weren't moving the ball enough, which is a staple of D'Antoni's up-tempo attack.

"I just think when you're tired, you revert to 'Let me get the ball and let me put [my] head down to go,'" he said. "And you get some charges that way and get turnovers."

Both Anthony and Stoudemire were whistled for two offensive fouls against Indy. They had eight of the Knicks' 15 turnovers.

"Hopefully we can get that out of their games completely," said D'Antoni, adding, "I told them at the end of 24 seconds, that's when their super-stardom comes into play. You get them the ball and they'll get you a shot. But before that we have to play as a team, move the ball, get to our spots."

Didn't happen on Sunday night.

Was it just a bump in the road as the new-look Knicks continue to get used to one another?

Or a legitimate stumbling block for a team that has shot a combined 39 percent during its recent two-game skid?

"Hopefully it just pops up every once in a while and maybe we can cure it," he said. "But we have to find the team that played against Miami, Atlanta [and] Memphis, and [we] didn't do it [Sunday] night."

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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