The New York Knicks have played 38 games in 72 days with a record of 25-13, which puts them in first place of their division. Not bad; except that the Knicks started the season 18-5 with remarkable blowout wins against the Miami Heatand other contenders. Injuries and age may have caught up with them after going 7-8 in their last 15 games.
The Knicks received a break in the schedule by having to play one game against an underachieving Detroit Pistons' team in London. The Knicks won 102-87 at the 02 Arena in London. The game was highlited by the return of Iman Shumphert, who tore his ACL against the Miami Heat in last year's playoffs. Shumphert, played 15 minutes in his first game and scored 8 points. (I'm glad to see him back. As a fan and friend, your defensive presence was highly missed. Now we can just bench Ronnie Brewer, that untalented scrub!).
One of the reasons why the Knicks have been struggling is due toinjuries, Even though the Knicks welcomed back Shumphert on Thursday, the Knicks are banged up:
Point guard Raymond Felton--"broken pinkie"
Marcus Camby--"inflammation of the foot"
Rasheed Wallace--"foot injury"
Amar'e Stoudemire is trying to work his way back into form after having knee surgery in the preseason.
Stoudemire's minutes have been limited and it looks like his passion for the game has gone out the door. There are games that he plays and it looks like he just doesn't try to compete. As a team, the Knicks are happy to see two of their good players back, but they lack a big man on the frontline with Camby and Wallace out. Entering tonight's games, the Knicks rank 27th in rebounding at 40.6 per game!
(For more on the importance of rebounding, please check out NBA Lessons--Ed).
Its been rumored that Wallace's foot injury could cost him the season and I know its hard for Wallace and Head Coach Mike Woodson to accept; you just don't bring someone out of retirement to cut them because of injury. "He'll be back -- but when, I don't know," Woodson said. "We're gradually trying to get him back where he can run again so he can get back in a uniform. But when? we don't know when yet." If the Knicks do cut Wallace, they would likely pursue veteran Kenyon Martin. Since I don't want to see that happen I hope Wallace can come back. He's a great defender and a threat around the three-point arc. I don't have any respect at all for Martin, who I don't think is a school-yard bully like Wallace. He doesn't intimidate players at all and has no offense to speak of. Which is the reason that he's still a free agent.
The Knicks are the oldest team in the NBA with an average age of just less than 33 years-old.
They have been criticized for adding a ton of veterans, such as Jason Kidd, (39) Kurt Thomas, (39) Marcus Camby, (38) Rasheed Wallace (38). One person who doesn't have a problem with it, is Carmelo Anthony, who enjoys the presence of the veterans. "It forces me to mature out there," Anthony said about the influence of the veterans. "Having the veterans, those guys bringing me up under their wings. It's a learning process to have guys like Jason. I've never been on a team with veterans like we have. Everybody in the world knows I can score. For me to come out here and do something else, it makes us better." That is something that I like to hear from a leader and recently voted as a starter to this year's All-Star game, his fifth appearance, and second as a Knick.
Could J.R. Smith join him? (He better!--Ed). Numbers don't lie, or asWallace would say,"Ball don't lie." Smith is averaging a career best 16.8 PPG, with assists and rebounds being up from last season. He has two buzzer-beating, game-winning shots and he has been grounded this year with the things that he does off the court. Right now Smith is playing to the point where he should at least be mentioned. If he keeps this up, he deserves to get the sixth-man of the year award (Stiff competition from the Clippers' Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes though--Ed.)
What I don't like to hear is Knicks' owner James Dolan babying Anthony. After Anthony and Kevin Garnett's altercation over his wife tasting like, "honey nut cheerios," Dolan had two microphones put in on both ends of the court at Madison Square Garden, claiming that he's trying to protect Anthony from opponents' trash-talking. I, however, think you're hurting him even more: it's bad enough to hear Anthony has been having bad games because he was, "fasting for spiritual reasons,"; now I have to see the star player lay his head down on the owner's shoulder when someone says hurtful things? Anthony has just shown a weakness: now everybody including fans, players, and the media will be able to get to him. All I can say is, "it was fun while it lasted."