Knicks Try To Shoot Down Negative Talk
NEW YORK -It is still difficult to determine how good these Knicks are right now. Of the three victories entering Tuesday night, they had beaten the New Jersey Nets, without Vince Carter and Jason Kidd, and the Boston Celtics without Paul Pierce.
Although, in their second of six pre-season games, they did knock off the Philadelphia 76ers, on the road, with Allen Iverson in the line-up. That two-point victory, at least, offered a measure of credibility.
Thus, when Philadelphia visited Madison Square Garden, without Iverson [contused and sprained left hand], the odds of New York improving to 4-1 greatly improved.
It's also difficult to argue with a 60.5% field goal percentage and 17 assists, which was how the Knicks built a fifteen point halftime advantage en route to a 113-102 cakewalk in front of 16,346 supportive fans.
Again, New York -who had averaged 104.5 points per game- showed signs of thriving in Isiah Thomas' up-tempo attack.
Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson each allied 19 points and shot a collective nine-of-14 from beyond the arc. Steve Francis scored all 13 of his points before intermission, and handed out the assist of the evening -an open-court behind-the-back pass that led to Renaldo Balkman dunk which provided a 61-45 cushion with 23.2 seconds remaining.
Mardy Collins and Eddy Curry were each four-of-four from the field. Quentin Richardson added 12 in 22 off the bench.
And David Lee finished with 10 rebounds and nine assists.
Iverson's presence would, surely, have made a difference, as would the loss of Stephon Marbury, who has developed bursitis, or inflammation of the right foot. Naturally, the $15 'Starbury' sneakers which he produced during the off-season were speculated to be the cause of the Knicks' latest injury.
"My shoe?" Marbury answered. "It's not because of my shoe." Still, he did receive a cortisone shot to ease the pain.
Marbury was sure he'd be ready for the Memphis Grizzlies, whom the open the season against on November 1. "I can do everything that I normally do," he stated. "They just wanted to make certain it's all right for now."
"We're not talking about anything structural," Thomas confirmed, in spite of the fact the 29 year-old guard has a medical rap sheet filled with ankle and knee ailments. Both ankles have already been surgically repaired and tendinitis has already set in both knees.
While Thomas chose to rest Marbury last night, it is still uncertain if he will partake in Friday's preseason finale in New Jersey.
Aside from disappointed fans who would've liked to watch he and Iverson in action, the evening was a complete success.
A 4-1 record may not hold much water, given how it has been achieved. But, in Thomas' world, a win is a win, whether it's a pick-up game or the Game Seven of the NBA Finals.
However, in a matter of days -when the regular season rolls around- it won't matter which of the other team's better players are available. New York, with or without Marbury, will be.
Thomas, their new coach, will be sure of that.