By Chris Sheridan
Now hear dis: Knicks knocked
BOSTON -- Larry Brown exited quickly and quietly as the buzzer sounded at the end of a disastrous overtime, putting his head down and checking the top button on his dark blue sports coat as he shuffled toward the locker room to review everything that had gone wrong.
To start with, there were 15 missed free throws, 10 fewer offensive rebounds, 22 turnovers and a 10-point deficiency in second-chance points. But those were merely the most egregious of the numbers, and a far larger problem was exposed as the Knicks scored just six points to Boston's 20 in the final five minutes of Brown's debut game, a 114-100 overtime loss Wednesday night to the Celtics.
"I think we got discouraged a little bit," Brown said in the hallway outside New York's locker room moments later. "In overtime, they made every hustle play."
Discouraged only begins to tell the story. Discombobulated, disheveled, disheartened, disgusting. How many dis words does one need to display to properly diss a team that completely crumbled when it came time to assert themselves?
Most troubling for the Knicks was the way their best players were outshone by their counterparts. The best center on the court was Mark Blount, not Eddy Curry. The best point guard was Delonte West, not Stephon Marbury. The guys making the big plays in overtime were Paul Pierce, Ricky Davis and Raef LaFrentz, not Matt Barnes, Davis and Jamal Crawford.
Especially not Crawford.
The shooting guard who learned before tipoff that he had lost his starting job to Quentin Richardson found himself playing in crunch time because Richardson was too sore to be fully effective. Crawford threw away a pass and had a shot blocked during a 39-second span of overtime in which Boston's lead went from seven to 13, ending all doubt. But those poor plays were only a sampling from Crawford, whose out-of-control shot selection and slipshod decision making will have to be one of the first things Brown tries to rein in.
Crawford ended up with six turnovers, while Marbury had five and shot just 5-for-12 from the foul line. Curry also missed seven free throws, and he repeatedly failed to step outside and guard Blount as the Celtics' center kept hitting jumpers.
Crawford acknowledged that Boston had made all the hustle plays, while Marbury defended the Knicks by saying all their mistakes were correctable.
But it came down to this: A win was within the Knicks' reach, and it would have been a tremendous ego boost if they had started the season by bringing something positive back to New York for the home opener. Instead, they are already saddled with a losing record that seems befitting -- at least at this point -- for a team that simply broke down when confronted with its first tough test. That's why Brown was so stonefaced as he made his hasty retreat, perhaps becoming even more aware of the fact that he's now in charge of a team so accustomed to losing that it seemed to come naturally to them in overtime.Chris Sheridan, a national NBA reporter for the past decade, covers the league for ESPN Insider. To e-mail Chris, click here.
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
Kobe had Phil's back in last night's OT win in Denver. But let's revisit this quote from Jackson's book detailing his reaction to an uncomfortable exchange during practice in Jan. 2004: "Now I was the one who was angry. I went upstairs to see Mitch [Kupchak] in his office. Wasting no time, I went off on a tirade about the need to deal Kobe before the trading deadline in mid-February. 'I won't coach this team next year if he is still here,' I said emphatically. 'He won't listen to anyone. I've had it with this kid.'"
After nine seasons, four NBA titles and a 434-268 record, John Kundla was moved up to GM of the Minneapolis Lakers before the 1957-58 season so recently retired center George Mikan could become coach. After a 9-30 start, Mikan was relieved of his duties and Kundla was reinstalled.
The Lakers did little better after Kundla's return, going 10-23 and finishing with the league's worst record, giving them the first pick in the draft. They picked Elgin Baylor, who led the Lakers to the NBA Finals in 1959. Kundla retired after the season to coach his alma mater, the University of Minnesota.
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AP Photo/A.J. Wolfe
See, these kind of shots are not what injury-prone Pau Gasol needs. Heat guard Jason Williams had three steals in his triumphant (97-78) return to Memphis.
No. 1 pick Andrew Bogut was 4-for-13. Jamaal Magloire, the All-Star center swiped from the Hornets, was 1-for-6. Bobby Simmons, the new $47 million small forward, was tiny indeed, shooting 1-for-7 for four points (and four turnovers). The miraculous, mercury-winged T.J. Ford was 7-for-19.
So how did the Milwaukee Bucks manage to leave the swamps of New Jersey on the second night of a back-to-back with 110 points and a double-digit win against the prohibitive favorites to win the Atlantic?
Three words: Michael "Bull's-eye" Redd. Dude can shoot. As in, 41 points on 20 official FGAs (12-20 FG, 3-5 3s, 14-17 FTs). Twenty-four hours after a buzzer-beating 3 that put the Bucks' opening-night game in Philly into OT (where the Bucks prevailed), Redd topped himself.
It's just two games, but the Bucks have to be feeling good about the number of ways they can put the ball in the hole.
And while it's jumping the gun to say that shooting is back in the NBA, on a night when the non-Redd Bucks shot 23-for-72 from the field, it's not premature to say how thrilled Milwaukee is to have its franchise player back.
"I can't see them keeping you out of the paint, which means you're going to see Shaquille O'Neal spending more time on the bench in foul trouble. They, right now, don't look like a team that can guard on the perimeter. That has to be the biggest concern for Stan Van Gundy."
Greg Anthony, on ESPN's NBA Shootaround (usually airs Fridays, 7:30 p.m. ET). Despite his concerns, he did pick the Heat to win it all.
The Bulls were down by 21 points entering the fourth quarter and rallied to beat Charlotte, 109-105, in overtime. It was only the sixth time in the last 50 years that an NBA team won a game after trailing by 21-or-more points at the end of the third quarter.
The previous largest comeback of that kind in a season opener was 19 points. On Oct. 19, 1974, Phoenix led Kansas City-Omaha 73-54 at the end of three quarters, but the Kings came back to win, 94-91.
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After wallowing on the Detroit bench for two years, Darko Milicic just might get his chance to shine this year. His Pistons dispensed with the Sixers, 108-88. Here's how he did last night:
Steve Francis grabbed a microphone just before tip-off and told the home crowd that the franchise (the man, the team) was committed to winning and asked for their support. Then the Magic went out and lost an opener for the first time since 1999.
Francis led the Magic with 15 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. "I think Steve's doing a great job. I couldn't be more pleased with the way he's playing," Magic coach Brian Hill said.