After pulling off a nice trade the day before (Drew Gooden, Andres Nocioni, Cedric Simmons and Michael Ruffin to the Sacramento Kings for Brad Miller and John Salmons) Chicago Bulls GM John Paxson made a “what are you thinking” trade just before the trading deadline on Thursday. The Bulls sent disgruntled guard Larry Hughes to the New York Knicks for Tim Thomas. The Bulls acquired Larry Hughes at the trading deadline last year in a move to unload Ben Wallace. Hughes has never fit in on the Bulls roster (often refusing to pass the ball to Derrick Rose while in the game), which forced Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro to bench Hughes since January 12th. Hughes is averaging 12.0 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Tim Thomas is averaging 9.6 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in about 20 minutes of play per game. This will be Thomas’ second stint as a Bull. Back during the 2005-6 NBA season, the Bulls acquired Thomas from the Knicks. Thomas played only 3 games and 30 total minutes for the Bulls before the Bulls sent him home that December for not fitting in with the team.
One positive on the deal – Del Negro has played with Thomas in Milwaukee and was familiar with him as an executive while in Phoenix. Del Negro will clearly spell out Thomas’ role with his new team and expects Thomas to be professional and contribute to the team on a nightly basis. Good luck with that Vinny…
Lebron James couldn’t bear to hear the news! In Wednesday’s 107-102 Cavaliers’ win over the New York Knicks, Lebron James was credited with his 21st career triple-double – 52 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. However, following the game, league officials reviewed certain plays in the game, and ruled that James was awarded a rebound with 39.3 seconds left in the game that should have been credited to Ben Wallace. Corrected statistics now show James with 9 rebounds and Wallace with 2 rebounds. Say bye-bye to your triple-double Lebron.
Now James has only 20 triple-doubles in his career – including 3 during the 2008-9 NBA season. The last time a player scored 50 or more points with a triple-double was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975.
Just 2 nights earlier, Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant poured in 61 points against the New York Knicks setting a Madison Square Garden record in the process. Last night, Lebron tried to 1-up Kobe, and although he didn’t quite reach the 61-point mark, his better overall game helped the Cleveland Cavaliers win a close game in New York. Lebron contributed his 21st triple-double of his young career. He scored 52 points on 17 of 33 shooting from the floor (16 of 19 from the free throw line). He also dished out 11 assists and grabbed 10 rebounds. In 44 minutes, he only had 3 turnovers and he also had 2 blocked shots. In contrast, Kobe only had 3 assists and no rebounds in his performance at the Garden on Monday night.
The Cavs needed Lebron’s full effort in order to pull out the win against the feisty Knicks. The Cavs blew a 12 point 1st quarter lead, but held on for the 5-point victory with an efficient 25-point 4th quarter. Knicks forwards Al Harrington and David Lee were a formidable duo on Wednesday night. Harrington led the Knicks with 39 points and 13 rebounds, while Lee chipped in 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. But it wasn’t enough to take down the Eastern Conference’s 2nd best team.
Kobe Bryant and the Lakers take on the Boston Celtics in Beantown tonight in a rematch of the 2008 NBA Finals. Then the Celtics take on the Knicks at the Garden on Friday night in New York. Will a Celtic player score 50+ points to make it 3 games in a row in which a Knicks opponent has a player that scored 50 or more points at the Garden? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see if Paul Pierce has it in him…
Kobe, Kobe, Kobe. Kobe Bryant set the points record at the current Madison Square Garden with his 61-point effort against the Knicks on Monday night. The previous record was held by the Knicks own Bernard King when he scored 60 points on Christmas Day almost 25 years ago in 1984. The previous opponent player’s high score was Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls who knocked down 55 points in one of his classic games at the Garden.
Kobe scored 61 points and dished out 3 assists, but he had no rebounds. He was 19 of 31 from the field, and he also hit all 20 of his free throws. It was the highest scoring game by any player in the NBA this season. It was Kobe’s 5th 40-point game against the Knicks at the Garden and it was his 24th 50-point game in his career.
As for the game and some other “good” performances. The Lakers’ Pau Gasol scored 32 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. The Knicks’ David Lee turned in another great night – 22 points and 12 rebounds. Al Harrington led the Knicks with 24 points, while Wilson Chandler chipped in 20 points off the bench.
The Lakers are now 38-9. With the .809 winning percentage, the Lakers trail only the Boston Celtics by percentage points – 40-9, .816 winning percentage.
Don’t look now, but the New York Knicks are making a run at the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Knicks have won 8 of their last 11 games and have had 2 3-game winning streaks in that mix. With a win over the Lakers at the Garden tonight, the Knicks could even extend the current 3-game winning streak to a season-high 4-game winning streak. Scoring has been the key for the Knicks during the last 11 games. The Knicks have scored over 100 points in each of the 8 wins, but they have scored under 100 points in 2 of the 3 losses. The only loss was at Phoenix, when the Suns outraced the Knicks to a 116-110 win.
On Saturday night, the Knicks knocked off the Pacers 122-113. The Knicks are only 4 games under .500 right now, and trail the Milwaukee Bucks by only a 1/2 game in the race for the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. In fact, they are only 4 games behind the Detroit Pistons and Miami Heat who are tied for the 5th and 6th seeds in the Eastern Conference. After you get past the Top 3 – Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic – the East is pretty weak, so anything is possible.
Two lesser know players are leading the Knicks of late. David Lee leads the team in scoring (15.9), rebounding (11.7) and field goal percentage (56.8). While Chris Duhon leads the Knicks in 4 other categories – assists (8.0), free throw percentage (86.8), 3-point percentage (41.7) and steals (1.1).
The Knicks will be tested at home this week. Tonight they take on the West’s best team – Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Wednesday night they face Lebron James and the Cavaliers and Friday night they face Paul Pierce and the Celtics. If the Knicks can somehow muster 1 win against the top 3 teams in the NBA, they should consider that a “moral victory”. Stay tuned…
The New York Knicks played better in Dallas but continued their losing ways with the 99-94 loss at the hands of the Mavericks. Once again, Chris Duhon led the Knicks in scoring with 24 points. Never a good sign, although he did add 7 assists. Wilson Chandler chipped in 20 points in a rare start, while David Lee put in another solid effort – 13 points and 15 rebounds in 37 minutes. Al Harrington scored 14 points off the bench, while Tim Thomas chipped in 10 points in a reserve role. The Mavericks put in a balanced offensive attack – with 6 players in double-digit scoring – led by Josh Howard with 19. Dirk Nowitzki was kept in check for most of the night – 3 of 13 shotting for only 10 points. Brandon Bass had the best night for the Mavericks in a reserve role – 12 points and 11 rebounds in only 27 minutes.
The Knicks are now 13-21 – 2.5 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Mavericks are now 22-13 and are playing well after a slow start. They are currently the 5th seed in the Western Conference but are within 2 games of the San Antonio Spurs and the New Orleans Hornets for the race in the Southwest Division.
Coming off an impressive 100-88 win over the Defending Champion Boston Celtics on Sunday night at the Garden, the Knicks looked to build some momentum as they approach the 2nd half of the season and the potential playoff run for the 7th and 8th spots in the Eastern Conference Playoffs race. Maybe they were looking too far ahead.
The Thunder raced out to a 35-23 1st quarter lead, and the Knicks could never fully recover. Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 27 points and 12 rebounds. Jeff Green also poured in 27 points to go along with 7 rebounds. Russell Westbrook came awfully close to a triple-double with his 22 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds – clearly one of his best games of the season.
For the Knicks, Chris Duhon led the Knicks starters in scoring with 18 points – that is usually not a good sign as Duhon is more of a “play-maker” than a “play-scorer”. Duhon did dish out 6 assists, while David Lee chipped in 14 points and 13 rebounds. Al Harrington led the Knicks in scoring with 21 points.
Next up for the Knicks are 3 more road games against better teams than the Thunder – Thursday in Dallas, Saturday in Houston and Monday in New Orleans. 3 losses? Most likely – especially if they play like they did Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.
Lebron James was in New York City Tuesday as his Cavaliers took on, and easily dismantled, the “new-look” New York Knicks 119-101. The Cavs led the Knicks 34-22 after 12 minutes, and then poured it on in the 2nd quarter with 33 points while holding the Knicks to only 14 points. The halftime result – Cavs 67, Knicks 36. Ouch.
In 3 quarters, Lebron made a big impact and statement – he scored 26 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in 30 minutes of play. The rest of his team did the rest, as the Cavaliers had 7 different players score in double-digits. Zydrunas Ilgauskas led the team with 10 rebounds, while Mo Williams grabbed 6 boards, dished out 6 assists and had 3 steals on defense.
The bigger story was what the Knicks did at the end of last week in order to get ready for the Free Agent Class of 2010 – headed by Lebron himself. The Knicks traded away 3 players last week, including their top 2 scorers Zach Randolph and Jamal Crawford, in order to acquire players whose contracts are expiring before the 2010 class hits the free agent market. The Knicks hope to lure Lebron from his midwest home in Cleveland to the big apple spotlight at the world’s most famous venue – Madison Square Garden. The Garden fans cheered his name loudly during pre-game warm-ups, even starting a chant of “Two More Years”. Music mogul Jay-Z, a good friend of Lebron’s and part-owner of the tri-state rival New Jersey Nets was also in attendance at the Garden. Knicks management and fans hope that they will be able to out-maneuver Jay-Z so that he doesn’t end up with the Nets in 2 years. And while James continues to say that he wants to play for an NBA Champion, where he ends up will likely come down to dollars. Asked if he would take less than a “max-NBA contract” to make sure he was surrounded with good players on his next team, he quickly answered “Now, I never said that.” So get your purse strings ready – some team is going to be showing Lebron the money very soon.
As for the Knicks – David Lee put in another solid night with 12 points and 13 rebounds; Stephon Marbury still refuses to play and was inactive; Al Harrington scored 13 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in his Knicks debut; Tim Thomas scored 16 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in his Knicks debut; newly acquired Cuttino Mobley did not play for the Knicks because medical issues.
After a positive start to the young NBA season – 6-6 after 12 games – the Knicks reverted to their turbulent ways with 2 trades and a player boycott before its 104-87 drubbing at the hands of the Bucks in Milwaukee on Friday night.
First the trades:
The Knicks sent guard Jamal Crawford to the Golden State Warriors for Al Harrington.
Just hours later, the Knicks traded Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins to the Los Angeles Clippers for Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas.
The moves were made to clear salary space and attempt to pacify disgruntled guard Stephon Marbury.
As for the salary cap space, the Knicks are looking to get under the cap within 2 years in order to clear room to sign a big-name free agent during the summer of 2010. That free agent class could include with likes of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, and the Knicks would love to sign one of those players in order to turn the franchise around.
The moves were also done to show troubled guard Stephon Marbury that there would plenty of minutes for him to get the playing time he desired (he has yet to play this season due to a riff with team management and new head coach Mike D’Antoni). Marbury responded by refusing to play in protest of the trades. He took his seat on the bench as he had done for the first 11 games of the season.
As a result, D’Antoni had only 7 players at his disposal for the Bucks game on Friday night. All 5 starters each played at least 37 minutes, with Chris Duhon shouldering the load with almost 43 minutes. Ouch. Th team shot only 34% from the field and were out rebounded 60-46. The Knicks are not expected to have the 3 incoming players until Tuesday night’s clash with the Cavaliers at the Garden. Tonight’s game against the Wizards could be a brutal affair, except for the fact that the Wizards have won only 1 of 10 games so far this season without their star Gilbert Arenas. If Marbury decides to play, the Knicks should run away with this one. If not, the Wizards could pull off the upset and pick up their 2nd win of the season.
Stay tuned for more Knicks drama…
The Knicks finally parted ways with Isiah Thomas after the 2007-8 NBA season, and they thought all the drama would trail along on Thomas’ coattails. Boy were they wrong.
New head coach Mike D’Antoni did not play disgruntled guard Stephon Marbury in the Knicks 120-115 victory over the Miami Heat in the season opener on Wednesday night. After Marbury and D’Antoni met before Friday night’s game in Philadelphia, the two agreed that Marbury would be placed in the inactive list since it appears that D’Antoni doesn’t think Marbury is ready to play for his team. It is unclear where the disconnect is between Marbury and his new coach. Neither Marbury nor D’Antoni have made too many public statements regarding the relationship. Marbury was not available for comment after the Knicks 116-87 loss to the 76ers on Friday night, while all D’Antoni would say is that he is trying to build a base for bringing back Marbury to the regular rotation.
Marbury has always been a thorn in the Knicks side since he arrived on Broadway in early 2004 in a mid-season trade from the Phoenix Suns. While Marbury played the rest of the season in 2004 and all 82 games in 2004-5 (when he averaged his Knicks’ best 21.7 points per game), he hasn’t played a full season for the Knicks since that time for various reasons. How quickly this situation gets resolved should make a big impact on how the team performs in D’Antoni’s first year as head coach of the Knicks.