Blame Mike D’Antoni …

by February 10, 2009

by Marcel Mutoni

… For the Knicks’ dramatic last-second loss to the Portland Trail Blazers from a couple of nights ago. You see, New York’s bench boss knows he screwed up at crunch time, when he failed to instruct his guys to foul Brandon Roy.

From the NY Times comes the rarest of things — someone in a position of power on the Knicks actually admitting to their mistake:

D’Antoni said it was not until a reporter asked a question during the postgame interview that he realized the Knicks had a foul to use. On most teams, that responsibility lies with an assistant or a trainer, because the coach has many other things to worry about in crunch time. But D’Antoni said: “I’m the guy. It’s my fault. So I should know.”

He delivered the same message to his players on the flight to San Francisco on Sunday night. “A position like that, why wouldn’t you foul?” D’Antoni said, clearly chagrined. “Probably won’t happen again. Can’t swear to it. But I messed up.”

After throwing himself under the bus, D’Antoni then came to David Lee’s defense, after the forward took criticism from Jeff Van Gundy during a nationally-televised game: “I don’t think that you got a guy with 37 double-doubles or whatever he has, competing every night and playing as hard as he can, that you can say he doesn’t care,” D’Antoni said. “That’s nuts.”

Not exactly hard to tell why Coach Mike is so popular with players around the L.