Mike D'Antoni took the safest route Wednesday night when he arrived in New York, skipping a night on the town and instead spending the evening at his home in Westchester with his wife and son, enjoying a home-cooked meal and the quiet company of family.

Thursday night he would be afforded no such greeting, instead facing a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden whose unwelcoming greeting was only exceeded by their happiness that he was gone.

D'Antoni brought the Lakers to New York, his first appearance at the Garden since he walked away March 13, conceding he was unable to get through to the team — leaving with a 121-167 record at the helm of the Knicks.

"It didn't end up exactly the way I would storybook it," D'Antoni said. "But I definitely don't regret it and there's no bitterness at all."

There should be little bitterness left in his wake either. Almost from the moment he left, the Knicks' fortunes changed: finishing 18-6 under Mike Woodson and entering Thursday's game with an Eastern Conference-best 16-5 record. While the affable D'Antoni struggled to fit the Knicks' stars together, Woodson stepped into the vacancy and let it be known there was a new regime.

Asked about that first meeting, Woodson said he laid down the law.