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Friday, March 16, 2012

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New coach, new approach: Mike Woodson, the interim bench boss for the Knicks, speaks to Jeremy Lin during Wednesday night's game against the Trail Blazers at Madison Square Garden. New York routed Portland 121-79. AP

Knicks roll after D'Antoni quits


NEW YORK — Maybe there's a big-name coach out there who can bring out the best in Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks.

Mike D'Antoni decided Wednesday he wasn't that guy. And so, he resigned, surprising even his bosses.

"It wasn't just Carmelo," interim general manager Glen Grunwald said. "I think it was our whole team was not playing up to where we thought they could be and I know Mike was as frustrated as anyone about that and that's what led him to that decision, that maybe there needs to be a new approach and look at it."

Assistant Mike Woodson was promoted to interim head coach and led the Knicks to a 121-79 Wednesday victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at Madison Square Garden.

"I think everyone for the most part was obviously very emotional when we came, but we sat down and said, 'Look, this is where we want to go. This is how we feel like we need to get there,' " Jeremy Lin said. "So we came out with more energy than we have in a long time."

The Knicks' brief resurgence in a wave of Linsanity last month had been replaced by a six-game losing streak that dropped the Knicks into a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, along with speculation of friction between D'Antoni and his All-Star forward.

Anthony denied it and said there was no "bad blood" between himself and the coach.

"As far as that, it is what it is when it comes that," Anthony said. "That's something I can't control as far as the blame being put on me. I don't sit here and complain about that."

D'Antoni ran the Knicks through their morning shootaround, but not before stopping into Grunwald's office at the Knicks' training center and telling him and fellow executive Allan Houston of his intentions.

Grunwald called MSG chairman James Dolan, who went up to the Westchester training center for what he called a "very honest" conversation with D'Antoni. Dolan later said the parting was mutual.

"He clearly felt it was best for the organization if he were not to continue as coach of the team. He did offer to stay," Dolan said during a news conference. "After a long discussion, we did agree it was best for the organization to have new voice moving forward."

Dolan made it clear that he believes in the players and still expects a playoff berth. D'Antoni said before the season that the Knicks should be a contender, but they haven't looked like one in the previous 10 games — all since Anthony returned from a groin injury.

New York was just 2-8 in that span, and D'Antoni wasn't the only one who couldn't figure out why the Knicks couldn't win with their best player.

A message was left with D'Antoni seeking comment.

Perhaps a call will go out to Phil Jackson or John Calipari.

In the rout, Amare Stoudemire made all seven shots in the first half, Anthony passed and shot well, and the Knicks shook off the surprising departure of their coach, snapping a six-game losing streak.

Anthony, who denied wanting a trade or having friction with D'Antoni earlier Wednesday, had 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting and tied a season high with seven assists. Stoudemire finished with 17 points and shot 8 of 10, before both stars sat out the fourth quarter while the Knicks rang up their highest point total of the season.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace each scored 15 points for the Trail Blazers.

Lakers 107, Hornets 101 (OT)

In New Orleans, Kobe Bryant scored 33 points, and Los Angeles won its fourth straight game and second straight in overtime.

For the second night in a row, the Lakers climbed out of a double-digit hole in the second half to force an extra period.

Spurs 122, Magic 111

In San Antonio, Dwight Howard had 22 points and 12 rebounds while losing what could be his last game with Orlando.

Howard, who said before the game he won't surrender his right to become a free agent this summer, had 22 points and 12 rebounds on the eve of the NBA trade deadline.

Bulls 106, Heat 102

In Chicago, John Lucas III scored 24 points, and the Bulls beat Miami without Derrick Rose in a showdown between the Eastern Conference's top two teams.

Pacers 111, 76ers 94

In Indianapolis, Danny Granger scored 20 points and the hosts shot a season-high 57 percent from the field to win their second straight.

Nets 98, Raptors 84

In Newark, New Jersey, Kris Humphries had 16 points and a career-high 21 rebounds to lead the Nets.

Rockets 107, Bobcats 87

In Houston, Luis Scola scored 23 points, Goran Dragic had 14 points and 10 assists and the hosts routed league-worst Charlotte.

Bucks 115, Cavaliers 105

In Milwaukee, Drew Gooden had 15 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists for his second career triple-double to lead the Bucks past Cleveland.

Celtics 105, Warriors 103

In Oakland, Kevin Garnett scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, including a tiebreaking jumper with 5.1 seconds left that led Boston to a victory over Golden State.

Suns 120, Jazz 111

In Phoenix, Channing Frye scored 26 points, Marcin Gortat had 25 and the Suns overcame a 13-point deficit to beat Utah.

Clippers 96, Hawks 82

In Atlanta, Mo Williams scored 25 points and Eric Bledsoe added 14 on a relatively quiet night by Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, leading Los Angeles to a win over the Hawks.

Pistons 124, Kings 112

In Sacramento, Rodney Stuckey scored 35 points and Greg Monroe had 32 for Detroit, which used a huge third-quarter effort to pull away from the Kings.

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