|Nov. 14, 2007 - 7:30 PM
The Knicks come into Staples Center a team in disarray. OK, I know they're always a team in disarray, but more so than usual this time. They've been playing without starting power forward Zach Randolph, starting small forward Quentin Richardson (the former Clipper) and now starting point guard Stephon Marbury. To make matters worse, Marbury's backup Mardy Collins turned an ankle in Phoenix Tuesday night. Their loss to the Suns was their third straight. Of course, the Clippers have plenty of issues of their own, starting the season without Elton Brand and Shaun Livingston, who have been joined in street clothes by Cat Mobley, so the Knicks get no sympathy points. If Cat can't play, this game is a gift from the scheduling gods - this team at this time is one of the only teams the generic, non-feline Clippers can beat.
Randolph began his Knicks career on a rebounding tear, averaging 13.5 for his first four games, while also scoring over 20 points per contest. Unfortunately for him, he has missed their last two games while dealing with his grandmother's death. He could be back against the Clippers but it seems unlikely. Richardson is out with a hyperextended elbow and is day-to-day. Marbury left Phoenix Tuesday morning in the wake of stories in the New York media that he might be benched or even bought out and it is highly unlikely that he will return to LA for the game. That leaves Eddy Curry and Jamal Crawford as the only regulars who will definitely be starting for the Knicks. Curry is a terrific scorer in the low post, arguably the best in the Eastern Conference, but a horrible defender and rebounder. The new Chris Kaman should have a field day. Crawford is another great scorer who has had some great games against the Clippers. David Lee is a monster - if Randolph isn't back, the drop off to Lee is not so bad, though Lee certainly isn't the scorer Zach is, and the depth chart takes a big hit. Fred Jones and Nate Robinson are both great players - in the Pac-10. In the NBA, not so much. The Knicks did just get Jared Jeffries back from a strained ACL.
- Marbury, Marbury, Marbury. OK, he'll have no bearing on the game since he won't be there, but we can still talk about him. This story has been moving quickly. First the Daily News reported Tuesday morning that Marbury's role with the team would likely be reduced. Then he was conspicuously absent from practice. Marbury now says that he is away from the team with Isiah Thomas' permission. But in the afternoon reports, Isiah certainly wasn't doing anything to defuse the situation.
Any type of penalty or suspension will be in-house and we'll try to keep it within the confines of our team. This is an in-house matter with our team and we'll keep it and leave it at that. We hope to see [Marbury] tonight at the game. However, if he's not, make no mistake about it, we want him as a member of our basketball team.
Does that sound like a man who gave Marbury permission to leave? Penalty... suspension... those words don't follow permission. And why would he be hoping to see him at the game if he knew he was in New York? Somebody is lying. Stay tuned.
- Who can stop the bleeding? The Clippers have lost two straight after starting 4-0. The Knicks have lost three straight after starting 2-1. They both need this win. But if the generic Clippers can't get this one at home, it's going to be a long, ugly couple months waiting for Brand to get back on the court. It's just not an option to lose to this team.
- Kaman versus Curry. Both are big (7'0" 265 versus 6'11" 285). Both can score in the low post (18.8 points per game each). One of them can rebound (13.5 rebounds per game versus 6.5). SIX POINT FIVE! The dude is 285 and plays the whole game near the basket and gets a tick over 6 rebounds a game! Sure, it's only been six games, but here's the thing - he's way over his career average of 5.5. And I complain about Tim Thomas' rebounding! Sheesh.
- Is there adductor in the house? While not receiving treatment on his pulled groin, Mobley has been shooting jump shots at the Clippers last two practices, and there is an outside chance he'll play against the Knicks, but don't count on it. Hopefully it won't matter. Ross guarding Crawford (a one on one scorer) is a very good situation for the Clippers, and hopefully they'll have enough weapons to handle the Knicks even without Mobley. A couple more days rest and Mobley should be ready to go in Oakland against the Warriors.
- Three is a magic number. In their four wins, the Clippers made almost 8 three pointers per game. In their two losses, they've made 5 total. Part of that is the absence of Mobley, but it's also the disappearance of Tim Thomas. He began the season 13 for 24 from distance in the four wins. He's 1 for 10 in the losses. Whether it's Thomas or someone else (Al Thornton? Ruben Patterson?) someone has to step up and contribute on the offensive end. Against the Cavs the Clippers' offense consisted of three guys only, and they can't all play 48 minutes. Maybe Dan Dickau can contribute on offense against the team that waived him? OK, probably not.
- Sam Cassell is still 37. Now 4 days shy of his 38th birthday, Cassell has had games of 35 and 28 points in the last week. With no Marbury and no Collins, the Knicks will be forced to put Nate Robinson on Cassell for long stretches. Sammy likes nothing more than to post up smaller guards, and Robinson is all of 5'9". Hell, Brevin Knight might post him up. Expect another big night from Cassell.