Game 75 Preview: Knicks vs. Blazers

Game Time:  7:00 p.m. Pacific    TV:  KGW

At 26-47 the best way to describe the Knicks' season so far is "undistinguished".  Mike D'Antoni was supposed to revolutionize, or at least reinvigorate, the offense but he hasn't had the horses to place in the race.  The Knicks sit 8th in the league in pace but they're an anemic 17th in offensive efficiency, a disastrous 28th in fast break point scored per game, 20th in points in the paint, 19th in shooting percentage, and 23rd in three-point percentage.  We're not in Phoenix anymore, D'anto.  Though they average 101.6 ppg on the year the Knicks have only topped 100 in 5 of their 15 games this month.  Add in a 25th-place finish in defensive efficiency, a 48% average opponent shooting clip, and a near 5-rebound deficit per game and you see why the franchise is limping.

David Lee has undoubtedly been The Man for the Knicks, averaging 20 and 12.  (He's the only Knick who averages more than 6 rebounds per game, by the way.)  He's a 55% shooter as well.  Al Harrington watches his back at 18 and 6 but he's become less of a multi-tool wonder and more of a perimeter shooter as the years have rolled.  He averages 5.7 three-point attempts per game despite being a 6'9" power forward who shoots 34% from distance.  Wilson Chandler has had a nice season at small forward but is out indefinitely with a groin injury.  6'10" forward Danilo Gallinari has gone on a streak in the last two weeks, scoring 25, 26, and 28 in consecutive games.  He's cooled down in the last couple though...not the first time he's seen stretches like that.  Center Eddy Curry is out for the year.  Veteran point guard Chris Duhon now plays behind sweet-shooting rookie Toney Douglas.  Oh, and the Knicks have Tracy McGrady too.  He's only scored 20 once in the last month though.

What is there to say?  It's a strange mesh of players playing in a less-than-optimal style with no defense or rebounding or depth and not much of anything else that would bail them out.  They have a couple nice pieces but they're a team in transition...as an organization, that is, not on the court.  (Seriously, seeing a Mike D'Antoni team 28th in the league in fast break points is like seeing Pamela Anderson without boobs.  "Wow, that's...OK, I have to go now.  Nice to meet you.")   Everybody knows this year doesn't count.  We'll have to see if the off-season plastic surgery for which they've saved all these years works.

In the meantime the Blazers have a game to win.  They got a gift last night when the Spurs lost to the Nets.  They have a chance to pull even in the standings which for them equates to being ahead due to the tiebreakers.  With Denver playing wounded tomorrow night Portland has a chance to make a definitive statement to the two teams they're battling with for position.  But Word One of that statement doesn't get read unless Portland takes care of business tonight. 

The Knicks have had around 4 quality wins all season.  One of them was a 93-84 victory over the Blazers on December 7th, an outing in which Portland's stars didn't shine and the entire team played in listless fashion.  Both momentum and situation are different this time.  Portland had better play differently.

If the Blazers take care of the ball, penetrate against New York's utter lack of shot-blocking, and pay even slight attention to the boards they should win this game.  If they don't, shame on them.

See the perspective at the always amusing and comprehensive PostingandToasting.

Enter tonight's Jersey Contest form here (fixed).  And yes, there's a typo in it.  The first bonus question should have been "combine for over 220 points".  But it's too late to fix it now.  So I'd seriously consider choosing "over" and just taking your free 10 points off of the question.  Unless, of course, you think the final score will be 60 to 49. 

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)    

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