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 5 years ago '04        #9621
Born_Loser|M 101 heat pts101
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Jared Zwerling

There was a stretch in early January when the Knicks played the Celtics, Pacers and Bulls and were outmatched by the physicality of the three beasts in the East.

Starting Monday, the Knicks will be tested in a different way against five consecutive difficult opponents: the Warriors, Nuggets, Trail Blazers, Clippers and Jazz.

The challenge? Keeping up with the faster pace, which defines the Western Conference style of play.

The Knicks' offense is the sixth-slowest in the NBA in terms of pace (92.7) -- a measurement of the average number of possessions per 48 minutes by a team. The Nuggets, on the other hand, have the second-fastest pace (97.7) and the Warriors are fifth (97).

Additionally, while the Knicks are second-worst in the league in fast-break points per game (9.0), the Nuggets, Clippers, Jazz and Warriors are all in the top 10. Denver is first in the category at 19.8, led by arguably the speediest point guard in the league, Ty Lawson, and his explosive wing teammates. The other teams also have fleet, big-time floor generals: Chris Paul, Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard.

Fueled by that speed and scoring in transition, those teams also capitalize on the energy of their local fans. Each team is much better in its own building than on the road. In fact, the Nuggets are tied with the Heat for the league's best home record (28-3).

On Saturday, Mike Woodson spoke about the importance of controlling pace on the road.

"It's going to be very important," he said. "Denver is just running people out of the gym. I don't know if it has a lot to do with the altitude or what, but they've been great at home. And the Clippers have been great in their building, so I mean, anytime you go on the road and play in hostile environments, you've got to control tempo. You can't get in their type of game, unless it presents itself, but you've got to know when to back away because they're pretty good in those buildings."

Woodson said that to prepare for the faster pace, rest is "the main thing," which holds true for the older Knicks and their recent history of injuries.

"If we got time to get a day or two of practice in, we will, but a lot of this is going to come down to guys getting rest and being ready and more alert," he said. "When you got this many games hitting you like that, if you're not alert, then you're not going to get much accomplished on the floor. So you've got to be committed, you've got to be focused."

Tyson Chandler said that he likes "the personnel of this team" for adjusting to different paces.

"We can play in any game," he said. "We're big, we're physical and we've got enough players to get up and down the court."

He's right about the transition game, but only when the guys commit to defense, which they have been doing recently. While the Knicks don't have a plethora of young run-and-gun players, like their West opponents, they're able to capitalize off making stops through Raymond Felton's and J.R. Smith's open-court aggressiveness, the team's 3-point shooting and Chandler as a terrific trailing finisher.

The name of the game is pace on the West Coast. Can the Knicks keep up?
 5 years ago '04        #9622
Born_Loser|M 101 heat pts101
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Woodson says may keep Melo's minutes down a bit tonight. Melo shooting Js at Olympic Club.
 5 years ago '04        #9623
Born_Loser|M 101 heat pts101
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Iman has officially dropped the "Rook" title from Woody
 5 years ago '04        #9624
Born_Loser|M 101 heat pts101
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Berman

The Knicks haven’t won a playoff series since 2001, but the Garden’s $800 million, three-year transformation continues to give owner James Dolan cause to jack up season-ticket prices.

In a press release, the Knicks announced season-ticket prices will go up, on average, 6.4 percent for next season. The ticket increase is related to the final stage of the three-year transformation being completed in time for next season.

Ticket prices for Rangers game will increase by four percent.

Two skybridges will be built above the Garden floor, where seats will be situated. There will be a new Gardenvision scoreboard. There will be 18 remodeled suites on the ninth floor and the grand entrance to the Garden will be revamped. In addition, the pinwheeled Garden ceiling will be restored. The Garden declined to specify which seats’ prices will be raised the most.
 5 years ago '04        #9625
Born_Loser|M 101 heat pts101
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Berman

OAKLAND — Carmelo Anthony played last night in the Knicks’ 92-63 loss to the Warriors, but what condition his knee will be in the rest of the season still is a question, as is the cause of his knee stiffness.

Anthony, who scored 14 points last night on 4-of-15 shooting, said he doesn’t know if he’ll be 100 percent any time soon, but claimed he has not been told he will need offseason knee surgery due to cartilage wear and tear.

“This was always the plan of me coming back on this road trip, to use this last week to get more rest and try to start off fresh for this road trip,’’ Anthony said. “I don’t think I’ll ever be 100 percent to be honest with you, but I will play.”

Anthony also plans to play tomorrow in Denver in his first return to the city where he opened his NBA career. The week off, in which he missed three games, will at least have him in a better way than had he played through the knee injury.

“I wasn’t concerned about that,’’ Anthony said. “I’m very happy to go back [to Denver] and play. If I wasn’t able to play, I wouldn’t have been upset about missing that game.’’

When asked about if it will be special, Anthony said, “Just to go back, I started my career there. I spent 7 1/2 years of my career. I did so much in that city. For me to go back not wearing a Denver Nugget jersey, there’ll be some mixed emotions with me. It was a new beginning when I started out there. There’s a lot of emotions.’’

And a lot of curiosity about his knee. The fluid and knee stiffness can be due to the flaking off of cartilage, according to medical experts. Anthony said he can’t get an answer on what the injury is exactly, but so far he has not been told offseason surgery is needed. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee after the 2010-11 season to clean out loose cartilage.

“There’s no pain at all. Just stiffness,’’ Anthony said at San Francisco’s Olympic Club. “Nobody really can give me an exact answer on it. Because there’s no pain or ligament damage. Just fluid in the back of the knee that’s prevented me from hyperextending my leg. Nothing of that nature. None of that. No surgery.

“Just a matter of getting tight in the back of the knee. Nothing in the front of the knee. No pain. No soreness. Just some irritation.’’

Anthony said he still has some swelling.

“I used this week to really try to get healthy, get my legs back, get the soreness out,’’ Anthony said. “I don’t think [the fluid] is completely gone. But with the rest, sitting out a couple of days, getting treatment, I definitely benefitted.’’

In light of Amar’e Stoudemire’s impending knee surgery, coach Mike Woodson has said he wants to keep Anthony to 35 minutes, tops, the rest of the season. Anthony didn’t sound crazy about the idea. Stoudemire was on a 30-minute cap, but went slightly over it last week. It may be no coincidence that after a three-game stretch in which Stoudemire set season highs in minutes in two of them, he came up lame.

“I don’t know,’’ Anthony said. “We got to see how the game goes. If I come back to play, I come back to play. If he wants to limit my minutes, I’m all for it. But when I come back to play, I come back to play.’’

Woodson won’t f!ght it.

“I would like to do that,’’ Woodson said. “These guys, you put minute restrictions, they get a little testy. I’ll kind of do what he wants to do.’’

Anthony departed the Cleveland game last Monday after he took a fall with the Knicks down 22 points. The Knicks rallied for the win. Anthony said he had been bothered by the injury the past couple of weeks but played through it. Anthony thinks the original injury occurred all the way back when he hyperextended the knee on Christmas against the Lakers but that was believed to be the left knee, not the right. Anthony has already missed 10 games this season.

Now Stoudemire is out at least six weeks and could be out until the second round of the playoffs.

“Take away the basketball aspect, just for him as person, mentally and emotionally to go through the roller coaster ride, to work so hard to get back to where he was at and to take a step backwards, I feel bad for him,’’ Anthony said. “As a person. I know he’s going through a lot trying to figure out why it’s always him.

“We’ve been in this situation before where we waited for him. The most important thing is for him to get healthy. We’re going to miss him. We need him. He was a big part of what we had going on. He worked his way back to being the Amar’e that everybody knows. He was given us a lot of production coming off that bench.’’
 5 years ago '04        #9626
Born_Loser|M 101 heat pts101
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Berman

OAKLAND — The Knicks are ready to write a new book: “How the West was Lost.’’

Carmelo Anthony’s return was a complete disaster and the Knicks were a complete mess last night as they began their daunting, five-game West Coast trip with a disgraceful 92-63 loss to the Warriors at The Oracle. It was a season low for points for the Knicks, whose previous low was 76, and they shot an embarrassing 27.4 percent (20 of 73).

Anthony, after missing three straight games with fluid in his right knee, had no fluidity to his game, pop in his legs or rhythm to his jumper, stinking out the Bay Area with a 4-of-15 brickfest.

“It was real sore,” Anthony said. “I tried to get through it and figure it out. I didn’t know how it would respond. It was agitation. I felt it out there.”

In 34 minutes, Anthony finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds but also spent the night out of position on defense.

“He was a little sluggish. We expected that,” coach Mike Woodson said. “We can’t use that as an excuse. We still have enough bodies without him.

“We had nothing going on offensively. We played one quarter. After the first quarter, that was it.”

It’s not an ideal time for Anthony to be in a funk. Tomorrow, he makes his first return to Denver since forcing a trade to the Knicks during the 2010-11 season.

Anthony played 30 minutes before being benched with 2:14 left in the third quarter and the Knicks trailing by 27 points, 74-47. Surprisingly, he returned with 9:16 left and a hit a 3-pointer before he was taken out for good with 5:25 left, down 24.

Stephen Curry didn’t hit for 54 this time, but sizzled again, scoring 26 points, making 6 of 10 3-pointers. But the depressing evening was lowlighted by J.R. Smith’s ejection with 6:51 left in the third quarter when the Knicks’ tough guy was tagged with a flagrant foul 2. He came down hard with two hands on a driving Harrison Barnes, getting him across the face. It was a nasty infraction with the club down 24 points, and referee Joey Crawford reviewed the tape and upgraded it to a flagrant 2, sending Smith to the showers for the second time in two weeks.

“I know I get fouled harder than that every night,” Smith said. “I know I got a target on my back.”

Smith was probably ticked at his 3-of-11 shooting and the lovely evening by Curry and David Lee, the ex-Knick, punished the Knicks with 21 points, 10 rebounds and eight a.ssists, nearly copping a triple-double.

With Amar’e Stoudemire having surgery yesterday and not available as a low-post presence, the Knicks couldn’t compete, shooting just 5 of 27 from the 3-point line. The Knicks’ leading scorer was Chris Copeland, who had 15, all in garbage time.

Anthony played all 12 minutes of the first quarter and 19:55 total in the half. He had just seven points on 2-of-8 shooting from the field, 3 of 5 from the free-throw line.

Anthony was not himself, moving stiffly, shooting poorly, defending ineptly. He left his man for switches, leaving guys open, including in the second quarter when Jarrett Jack hit a wide-open jumper on a Anthony switch.

“Any time you come off an injury, the first game is always the toughest,” Jason Kidd said about the superstar’s return.

Anthony missed the last three games with a sore/stiff knee caused by fluid buildup. He said before the game there was still a little fluid left.

Often he was matched up against Lee and didn’t seem to have the strength to post up against the burly power forward. Lee took Anthony to school on turnaround jumpers. He had 13 points in the half with five rebounds and six a.ssists.

The Warriors built a commanding 50-35 lead by halftime as Curry shined again with 17 first-half point and Anthony’s return was fast turning into a dud.

Smith didn’t help. He was 2 of 10 in the half, missing his drives and jumpers.

Curry had 54 points in a Garden loss 12 days ago and was on pace with 11 points midway through the first quarter. His 3-pointer was soft as tissue paper again, hitting his first trey and making 5 of 7 by halftime. After calling a timeout, Woodson started yelling at Raymond Felton, presumably for not getting up closer on Curry beyond the arc.

Golden State’s sharpshooter, Klay Thompson (23 points), also made Felton look bad on one play, going for a shot fake and letting Thompson go around him for a bunny jumper.

In the prior meeting, Curry had no help from Thompson. But this time, Thompson was raining jumpers, making 3 of 4 3-pointers and hitting for 13 by halftime. Neither Lee nor center Andrew Bogut played in the first meeting. Lee was suspended for the Indiana brawl and Bogut had back spasms.
 5 years ago '04        #9627
Born_Loser|M 101 heat pts101
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Jared Zwerling

Today's Burning Question: Should Chris Copeland be part of the Knicks' main rotation?

After the Knicks scored a season-low 63 points against the Warriors on Monday night, Tyson Chandler said "Not too many players got into rhythm."

"Cope played well," Mike Woodson said afterward. "He's been giving us some positive minutes. He might have to see more time."

You think?

Besides Carmelo Anthony, Copeland is arguably the team's most versatile scorer in half-court sets. In fact, when he and Anthony used to play one-on-one occasionally at the Pepsi Center during summer workouts when Melo was in Denver, the Knicks' 28-year-old rookie would sometimes beat him.

Now that the injured Amar'e Stoudemire is out for the rest of the regular season, the Knicks need scoring down low off the bench -- Anthony brings that to start games -- and Copeland can take on that role at times. In addition, he clearly can take his game to the perimeter, where he can work off pick-and-rolls or be a threat as a spot-up shooter.

While Copeland still struggles defensively and with his court awareness -- he had four turnovers Monday night -- he needs to play sooner to give the team an earlier boost. They're hurting for offense right now. You also have to factor in their next four West Coast opponents who like to play at a faster pace. His quick release and sharp moves off the dribble should fit right into the flow of the games.

No more garbage time for Cope.
 5 years ago '08        #9628
AC_89 229 heat pts229
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Kmart starting with cope coming off the bench
 5 years ago '04        #9629
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Berman

DENVER — J.R. Smith was vindicated Tuesday when his flagrant 2 foul during the Knicks’ Golden State game Monday — an automatic ejection — was reversed to a lighter flagrant. But all that means is he will get some money back.

Smith, as well as Carmelo Anthony, makes his first homecoming since leaving Denver after the 2010-11 season, and has other issues besides having what he called “a target on my back’’ with the referees.

Smith is battling a sore left knee that was wrapped in ice yesterday during practice. Before Saturday’s game at the Garden, his knee issue became so severe he visited the team orthopedist Dr. Answorth Allen before the game.

“I’m all right, a lot of guys are worse off than me,’’ Smith said.

Smith, with his renegade reputation he weaved in Denver, is trying to change his offensive game and drive the ball more. But he needs the referees on his side. Smith was ejected in the third quarter Monday when he came down hard on Harrison Barnesgetting him across the face and chest.

“I thought it was just a hard foul,’’ Smith said. “I get fouled harder than that every night.’’

Smith is getting frustrated as he tries to rework his offensive game.

“My jumper hasn’t been falling,’’ Smith said. “A lot of people are saying go to the basket. Maybe you’ll get a call. It hasn’t been working. I’ll keep doing it.’’

Smith holds a Denver record — most 3-point makes, 768.

“I think he’s still learning how to score,’’ Woodson said of Smith’s issues with referees. “Sometimes scorers when they go in there they are so caught in trying to make the shot, sometimes you pull away from contact.The great scorers take the blows and you know you’re going to get to the line,” Woodson said. “That’s the fine line he is as a scorer. He’s been pretty much a jump shooter.”

* Karl on the six returning former Nuggets (Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, Marcus Camby, Smith, Raymond Felton and James White): “I hope it’s a celebration, but when the game gets started I hope they’re supportive and crazy wild for us.” The Knicks are one of those teams that travel well.’’ ... Smith on his return: “I had fun here. I feel nothing bad about Denver.’’ ... Denver is 28-3 at home, best in the West.
 5 years ago '04        #9630
Born_Loser|M 101 heat pts101
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it's a start...




Patrick Ewing will join MSG post-game coverage on March 20 & 31
 5 years ago '04        #9631
Born_Loser|M 101 heat pts101
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"Chauncey Billups, with me (BASED HAHN) and Michael Kay Monday on ESPN Radio: "I think they did [make a mistake in amnestying him]. But to get what they got, I understand, because I love Tyson [Chandler]. I wish there was a way they could have gotten Tyson and kept me. We probably would have a championship by now.""
 5 years ago '04        #9632
Born_Loser|M 101 heat pts101
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Jared Zwerling

Earlier this week, Mike Woodson said that he would meet with GM Glen Grunwald after the Knicks' road trip to discuss the roster, which is not only banged up but also hurting for points.

While Amar'e Stoudemire and Rasheed Wallace are out for the rest of the regular season with a right knee debridement and fractured left foot, respectively, the team scored a season-low 63 points in a blowout loss to the Warriors on Monday night.

The Knicks' immediate need is in the frontcourt, but here's the problem: There are no good big men to sign. As one seasoned agent put it, "It's pretty much desolate." The dismal field includes Tony Battie, Josh Boone, Brian Cook, Dan Gadzuric, Troy Murphy, Ben Wallace, Hassan Whiteside and Sean Williams.

The most intriguing free agent is Henry Sims, who was recently released by the Hornets on a 10-day contract after playing for the D-League's Erie BayHawks. But a source close to the Knicks said that if the team released or bought out a player -- possibly James White as Woodson is too committed to Wallace -- they would likely not sign a big. That's especially because the Knicks don't want to spend time this season developing the rookie Sims. They're in veteran mode.

Instead, the source said, the Knicks would be interested in a younger, but experienced, backup point guard. That player would build on Raymond Felton's aggressive play in transition and half-court sets to start games. While Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni are wise floor generals, they simply don't have the consistent speed and quickness to get into the paint and make plays.

The Knicks sometimes lack offensive balance from their first to second unit, and without Stoudemire for the long haul, they're going to need more perimeter penetration to create more shot opportunities. Not to mention, Carmelo Anthony's right knee is still bothering him, so his teammates need to make things easier on the Knicks' star. The number of his routine isolation grind-outs must diminish.

The source said that point guard Delonte West makes the most sense for the Knicks. Also available is Sundiata Gaines, 26, who averaged 5.1 points, 2.2 a.ssists and one steal in 14 minutes per game last season for the Nets, but he's not regarded as highly in NBA circles. Another option could've been Jannero Pargo, but he's signing a 10-day deal with the Bobcats.

The 29-year-old West would be the best option at the one spot. Averaging 9.7 points, 3.6 a.ssists and 1.1 steals per game in his eight-year career, he can score and dish off pick-and-rolls, blow by defenders in the open court and finish, shoot from the outside and swarm his man all over the floor.

West has been absent from the league this season after getting suspended by the Mavericks in October for "conduct detrimental to the team." Since then, he had been acquired by a D-League team, but didn't play in any games. But the Knicks could present an easy adjustment for West who would be surrounded by comforting vets, and he knows Kidd well from Dallas last season. In fact, when West would play backup point, Kidd would occasionally be his running mate, knocking down 3-pointers.

Could that two-man lineup carry over well to the Knicks?
 5 years ago '04        #9633
Born_Loser|M 101 heat pts101
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Melo had his knee drained and will fly to LA...questionable for the Clipper game tho
 5 years ago '04        #9634
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tonights starting 5

Felton, Shumpert, Copeland, Martin, Thomas.
 5 years ago '10        #9635
Blkboipurp 
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The source said that point guard Delonte West makes the most sense for the Knicks. Also available is Sundiata Gaines, 26, who averaged 5.1 points, 2.2 a.ssists and one steal in 14 minutes per game last season for the Nets, but he's not regarded as highly in NBA circles. Another option could've been Jannero Pargo, but he's signing a 10-day deal with the Bobcats.

The 29-year-old West would be the best option at the one spot. Averaging 9.7 points, 3.6 a.ssists and 1.1 steals per game in his eight-year career, he can score and dish off pick-and-rolls, blow by defenders in the open court and finish, shoot from the outside and swarm his man all over the floor.

West has been absent from the league this season after getting suspended by the Mavericks in October for "conduct detrimental to the team." Since then, he had been acquired by a D-League team, but didn't play in any games. But the Knicks could present an easy adjustment for West who would be surrounded by comforting vets, and he knows Kidd well from Dallas last season. In fact, when West would play backup point, Kidd would occasionally be his running mate, knocking down 3-pointers.

Could that two-man lineup carry over well to the Knicks?
 5 years ago '04        #9636
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Chandler will play against the Clippers
 5 years ago '04        #9637
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HOWARD BECK

PORTLAND, Ore. — Carmelo Anthony was back in New York on Thursday, confronting a long needle and a cranky knee that has undermined a once-glorious Knicks season.
Related

Anthony had fluid drained from the back of his right knee Thursday afternoon, after spending more than three weeks f!ghting stiffness and soreness while his game deteriorated. He is expected to rejoin the slumping Knicks on Friday in Los Angeles and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Clippers.

The Knicks played the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night without their three top stars, all because of knee injuries. Amar’e Stoudemire has been lost for six weeks after having surgery. Tyson Chandler sat out after bruising his left knee Wednesday. He is day to day.

There was some good news out of New York, however.

Doctors found no structural damage to Anthony’s knee. Nor was the fluid buildup caused by an arthritic condition. The team described the problem as simply a “soft-tissue fluid collection” in the back of the knee.

Coach Mike Woodson said in a radio interview Thursday that he was worried about Anthony’s knee, but he sounded more optimistic after speaking to Anthony, following the procedure.

“He felt pretty good about it,” Woodson said. “So I feel good.”

Anthony has missed four games, and parts of two others, this month because of the knee. By his own account, the knee has been an issue for at least three weeks, although Anthony said nothing publicly until March 4, after asking out of a game in Cleveland. A magnetic resonance imaging test taken days before that game showed no damage.

Rather than having the knee drained immediately, Anthony chose rest, taking three games off before returning to the lineup Monday against the Golden State Warriors. He played poorly, going 4 for 15 in a 92-63 loss.

Then Anthony hit his low point Wednesday night, playing for the first time in Denver since forcing the Nuggets to trade him two years ago. He missed 9 of 12 shots and asked out of the game early in the third quarter, with the Knicks trailing by 26 points. He announced afterward that he would return to New York to have the knee drained.

That, of course, raised the question of whether Anthony should have pursued this remedy days or weeks ago.

“We all know our own bodies,” Woodson said. “And if he thought he could play without getting it drained, then that was the route that he chose to take.”

Woodson added, “He’s going to be fine.”

Fluid buildup is generally caused by irritation, although the Knicks have not explained what caused the irritation in Anthony’s case. Possible causes include sprains, cartilage damage, a meniscal tear or a partial ligament tear, said Dr. James Gladstone, the co-chief of sports medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

“It could be incredibly minor, too,” said Gladstone, who has not examined Anthony and was speaking generally. The mere presence of fluid “is not alarming,” nor is it necessarily indicative of arthritis, he said.

“They drain it because it’s uncomfortable and let it settle down for a few days,” Gladstone said.
 5 years ago '04        #9638
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MARC BERMAN

LOS ANGELES — The Knicks aren’t that desperate yet, but will be one of the teams monitoring the progress of mercurial point guard Delonte West, expected to make his D-League debut tonight when the Texas Legends host the Santa Cruz Warriors.

West is a super talent and super headache, but, at 29, a relative pup by Knicks standards. He hasn’t played all season but was effective last year with Dallas. The Knicks haven’t been thrilled with their point-guard play since Christmas, with Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd falling back to Earth, Iman Shumpert not being a reliable scorer and playmaking rookie Pablo Prigioni not enough of an offensive threat.

The Knicks don’t have a roster spot and rehabbing Rasheed Wallace is on the West Coast trip for “moral support,’’ coach Mike Woodson said. Woodson acknowledged he will sit down with general manager Glen Grunwald after the trip to explore options. Wallace would have to be cut to open a roster spot.

Wallace (foot surgery) could be back for the second round of the playoffs, but seems like a longshot. The Knicks probably won’t spring for a big-man signing unless Marcus Camby’s foot gives out again. Camby looked active in Portland Thursday.

The Knicks’ options are slim since they cannot sign a player waived after March 1 to be on the playoff roster. The top D-League centers include Hilton Armstrong, Vernon Macklin, Hassan Whiteside, Keith Benson, and Solomon Alabi.

* Former Knicks center Timofey Mozgov played nine garbage-time minutes in Denver on Wednesday. The young 7-foot-1 Russian has been out of the Nuggets’ rotation and becomes a restricted free agent July 1. The Knicks have interest and inquired about Mozgov at the trade deadline. But they have little flexibility with their $3.1 million mini mid-level and are unable to make a sign-and-trade under the new rules.

“We got the option to choose a team where I can play,’’ Mozgov told The Post. “I can’t say [Nuggets coach] George [Karl] is bad. Of course it’s not a good feeling when you don’t play, but I’m still part of the team. New York is a good city, no question, but there are 30 teams.’’

* Kenyon Martin signed yesterday for the rest of the season after the second of his 10-day contracts expired Thursday night. The increasingly impressive Martin left in the final minutes in Thursday’s game with a bruised left shin but was said to be OK. Martin, who played for the Clippers last season, could start against his former team tomorrow.
 5 years ago '04        #9639
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MARC BERMAN

LOS ANGELES — J.R. Smith sounded the alarm yesterday in Los Angeles after the Knicks fell to 0-4 on their nightmarish West Coast trip, after Lob City was too much for Limp City.

The Knicks were undermanned again without their “Trio Grande’’ frontcourt and could be without them again tonight in the trip’s finale. Carmelo Anthony sat in the locker room during the game getting treatment, and said as he walked to the bus: “Not going to talk today.’’

It is highly unlikely Anthony plays tonight, though Tyson Chandler’s chances are better.

It doesn’t matter to Smith, now the voice of the locker room with Anthony rehabbing from his knee drainage, Chandler battling a strained muscle in his neck and bruised left knee and Amar’e Stoudemire home rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee.

Smith, who has been playing through a sore left knee, questioned the team’s “heart’’ earlier in the trip and warned the club may be facing an early playoff exit if it doesn’t get with it.

“I’m fine [physically],’’ Smith said. “It’s just starting to take a toll on me mentally. Losing like this, knowing the type of team we were at the beginning of the year, we have to keep f!ghting through it.”

The Knicks (38-26) were 18-5 in mid-December. They are now one game below .500 since.

“I believe we can [get back to that],’’ Smith said. “We don’t have a choice. Either keep playing like this and have an early exit in the playoffs or start f!ghting. We need some help. We have to help each other on the offensive and defensive end. We can’t rely on our offense.”

The Knicks battled with heart for the first half and even came on in the fourth quarter to cut it briefly to nine. But they didn’t have the firepower to keep it up as the athletic Clippers opened a 19-point lead in the third.

“There are no moral victories here,’’ Smith said.

Smith had a bad shooting night (4 of 20), but he drove the ball hard and got to the line to make 8 of 9 free throws and finish with 17 points. The Knicks shot 35.8 percent overall.

“We couldn’t put the ball in the ocean,’’ Smith said.

Coach Mike Woodson questioned the team’s “shot selection” but that was nitpicking.

The Knicks have lost in double digits in all four games, outscored by a total of 80 points. At least the Knicks beat Utah at the Garden before leaving for this trip. However, the Jazz are coming off a big win against mighty Memphis. The Knicks haven’t won in Utah since 2005.

“Whether it is or it isn’t [with Anthony and Chandler tomorrow], we have to come out and f!ght and try to get a ‘W.’ We have to at least try to get one and go home feeling good about ourselves a little bit,” Woodson said. “After this 0-4, we have to find a way to get one win on the road trip.’’

Woodson said he “really didn’t know’’ whether Anthony or Chandler would play tonight and that means a ragtag starting frontcourt of Kurt Thomas, Kenyon Martin and Chris Copeland could go for the third straight game.

“We’re playing with guys we’re not accustomed to playing with,’’ Smith said. “We knew where guys would be in certain spots. You get thrown in there with some people that haven’t been playing all that much and we haven’t had time to practice, so we got to figure it out.’’

The Clippers’ highlight play of the day came in the third quarter. On the break, starting point guard Paul found Griffin with a high alley-oop pass over Copeland that Griffin thundered violently through the hoop with his right arm. Lob City indeed.

“They are a load,’’ Woodson said. “Jordan and Blake are big-time loads on that block.’’

Point guard Raymond Felton had 16 points and nine rebounds in a solid outing. Paul scored 20 points with eight a.ssists, and Griffin had 12 points and 12 boards and a series of ferocious slams.

For the second straight game, the Knicks started the ragtag frontcourt of 40-year-old Thomas, Martin and Copeland. Thomas and Martin combined to score six points.

“I thought we competed, these guys have pride,’’ said Martin. “This team is not made of one or two guys. But we have to stop the bleeding before we get back to New York.’’

The Knicks took a 8-0 and 13-7 leads and those were the highlights. The super acrobatic center Jordan gave the Clippers their first lead at 16-15 on a breakaway windmill dunk

The irony is the Clippers didn’t play all that sharp, were sloppy and still won handily. “We wanted them to be full throttle with Carmelo and Tyson just for the competition of it,’’ ex-Knick Chauncey Billups said. “But when they’re not playing, it’s kind of human nature to have a subconscious letdown, but you have to find a way to f!ght through it.’’
 5 years ago '07        #9640
I Am The Truth 1 heat pts
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JR growing up... i hope he stays next season, even if his last name might as well be "Starks"... he's only right and we may really need Delonte West... cut James White yo
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