Woody: Tyson will be back before playoffs

March, 28, 2013
3/28/13
4:50
PM ET
On Thursday, Mike Woodson said Tyson Chandler, who has missed the past eight games with a bulging disk in his neck, will return before the playoffs.

"He'll be back before then, I'm pretty sure of that," the coach said during an appearance on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. "When, I don't know. Yeah, we are short-handed a little bit, but, hey, we've just been kind of mixing and matching, and guys are buying in."

In Chandler's absence, Kenyon Martin has been holding down the fort, averaging 10.8 points per game on 66.1 percent shooting, while also collecting 2.9 offensive rebounds and nearly one block and a steal.

"Kenyon Martin has really, really helped our team," Woodson said. "I mean, the fact that we're so beat up at the big spots. He's been a major plus for our ballclub and anchoring our defense inside and making plays offensively out of the pick-and-roll sets. I mean, it's just been great to have him."

Woodson said that he would "absolutely" consider starting Martin at the four spot when Chandler takes over at starting center. That would move Carmelo Anthony to small forward, and the backcourt would likely feature Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert.

Woodson said he would prefer to play a bigger frontline against teams like the Pacers and Bulls.

Here are some other interesting nuggets from Woodson:

Turning point to initiate the six-game winning streak: "I thought [the Knicks' win over the Jazz on March 18] was a pivotal game for us coming back off the road to come home. It's been a nice carryover, because guys now are starting to feel good about themselves and our play has benefited from that. ... We're back to defending and sharing the basketball."

J.R. Smith's resurgence: "I couldn't be more proud for the young man because there's been some strikes against him. ... We have pushed him from a coaching standpoint to try to be better on and off the court, and his game is really starting to shape up. He's doing everything that we've asked him to do and he's not one-dimensional now, and that, to me, is a sign of growth where he's not just a jump shooter.

"I've been on J.R. kind of hard this season. I saw something a year ago that I truly believed could help our ballclub and help us in a way we could win at a high level. ... I went straight at him and just told him what I felt. I told him that he could be the best sixth man coming off the bench."

Roster versatility: "We've assembled these guys for mainly the playoffs in case we do have to play teams that are big, like Indiana and Chicago. And we have enough supporting cast where we can play small ball. That was the whole idea in coming into this season where we have two types of teams, and pull them out when we've got to have them."

Offensive balance: "Everybody thinks it's just J.R. and Melo. We have five guys that average in double figures. ... I think we have enough guys that can score the basketball. My thing is, it's about making the commitment on the other end."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 9.6
AssistsR. Felton 5.6
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2

NEW YORK CALENDAR