By Chris Sheridan
Brown's Peculiar Sub Ways
NEW YORK -- Act II of Larry Brown vs. Stephon Marbury has begun, not with a haymaker but with an exchange of jabs.
After the Knicks' 83-81 home loss to the Golden State Warriors, Marbury couldn't help himself from knocking the willy-nilly nature of Brown's substitution patterns, which haven't really been patterns at all, in losses to Boston, Washington and Golden State.
"Consistency is always the best teacher," Marbury said. "I guess coach does stuff differently."
For instance, the Warriors led 80-75 with 53 seconds remaining when Brown reinserted sparkplug Nate Robinson.
Seconds later, the 5-foot-7 rookie had the ball swiped from him near midcourt by Baron Davis (Robinson claimed Davis fouled him), ending the Knicks' final chance.
"I felt bad for Nate," Brown said. "That last turnover, he shouldn't have been in that position. We pick up the dribble and throw it to him ..."
Let the record show that it was Marbury, who did not get along with Brown when the two were paired on the 2004 Olympic team, who picked up his dribble and passed the ball to the Robinson.
Which means that fateful turnover was actually Marbury's fault, Brown seemed to be saying.
Another example of Brown's quirky sub patterns: After falling behind 74-73 with 4:35 remaining, the Knicks' next six shots were jumpers, all of which missed. Through it all, Eddy Curry sat and watched.
If he was simmering afterward, he wouldn't let it show. Curry refused to take the reporters' bait, striving not to say anything negative despite being benched for the final 15:16.
"With coach Brown things are liable to change at any moment. You never really know," Curry said. "If you're not playing hard or he feels you're not doing the right thing, he's going to get you out. It's ultimately up to him to decide who he wants in the game."
Said Marbury: "Whenever you've got an inside presence, it makes the game extremely easy."
Golden State coach Mike Montgomery also was surprised that Curry sat. Curry had been nearly impossible for the Warriors to contain in the early going, and Montgomery held Adonal Foyle out for much of the second half awaiting the return that never came.
"Larry knows his team and he knows where he has to go and what he has to do, and I'm sure he's got all the right reasons for doing what he did," Montgomery said diplomatically.
AP Photo/Jessica Kourkounis
Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy stepped into a nest of Hornets during a dispute Saturday. Like old times, assistant coach Patrick Ewing was on the scene. There were no ejections.
It's way early, but it sure looks like we know the Elite Eight in the East.
The conference standings tell most of the story, though of course we expect the Heat to overcome their tough first week -- including Shaq's twist and shout -- and replace those fiesty Bobcats in the standings (and displace the Wizards at the top of the Southeast Division).
So far, it certainly looks possible that the loaded Central Division can put all five teams in the playoffs, which would be unprecedented.
The West looks much wilder, with three teams projected to be competing for the second best record in the conference struggling along at a combined 3-6 -- Houston (now without T-Mac), Denver (no Nene) and Sacramento.
Meanwhile, if it were time to print up playoff tickets. New Orleans/Oklahoma City (2-1), Utah (2-1) and the West-leading L.A. Clippers (3-0) would be in.
But take it all with a grain of salt. Remember, the Jazz looked like a title contender at this point a year ago.
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AP Photo/Matt A. Brown
Timberwolves guard Troy Hudson's potential game-winner missed Saturday against the Clippers. Elton Brand and Co. aim for 4-0 in tonight's rematch in Minneapolis.
Quote of the Weekend
Mike Brown must not only get his starters to play defense but also his reserves. LeBron, Hughes (2004-05 All Defensive First Team), Snow, Gooden and Ilgauskas will be able to use their athleticism, toughness and length to get the job done.
• John Carroll | Complete Cavs report
While I love Baron Davis' game -- he's easily one of the league's top five point guards -- I don't feel comfortable trusting him to stay healthy. Entering this season, he had missed 83 games the last three seasons due to injury.
And last year, some believe he may have sat out of spite. Upset with the franchise that had given him max dollars, Davis shut it down after just 18 games for the New Orleans Hornets. Yet as soon as he was traded to the Warriors in February of 2004, he was suddenly healed, able to leave the IL and work his wizardry in the Bay Area.
When I was making my preseason predictions, I put his track record together and concurred with Public Enemy's inimitable Chuck D -- Can't Truss It. Thus, I left the Warriors out of the playoffs.
• Chris Broussard | Full blog entry
Here's a look at the 12 rookies getting the most run after a handful of games. The first pick in the draft is also first in rookie MP. (These dozen are all ahead of perennial Pistons pine guy Darko Milicic, who is playing 9.3 mpg this year in three games -- much better than his 6.0 mpg career average.)