Updated: Nov. 14, 2005, 8:44 PM ET

Knicks Messiah, Revisited

By Royce Webb
ESPN.com

After their 105-95 win in Sacramento, the New York Knicks find themselves on a one-game winning streak and full of hope that their brutal 0-5 start to the season was just a necessary growing pain.

Another reason for optimism: Many have made the point in recent days, at ESPN and elsewhere, that Larry Brown's teams "always start slowly and then improve."

But is it true? Are Brown's teams always slow to find the flow?

We decided to look it up.

The answer? Sort of, kind of, sometimes. But not really.

At three of his previous professional coaching stops, Brown's teams indeed started very slowly -- a combined two wins and 18 losses. Remarkably, two of those three teams made the playoffs despite the wretched early-season performance. The other made the playoffs the subsequent year.

However, on three other occasions, Brown took teams that had been below .500 the previous year and started spectacularly, with a combined 17-1 mark. Each of these three teams made the playoffs.

On two other occasions, Brown had a middling start with his new team (6-8 with the Spurs, 5-4 with the Pistons). One of these teams finished 21-61. The other won the NBA championship.

So what's the verdict?

Under Brown, you will get a winning team, and usually in the first season, if history is any guide.

And if you start slowly, you will improve.

So Knicks fans have well-founded reason for hope: Brown has a very strong track record of taking teams, whether they start slowly or not, to new and better places.

Of course, they also have reason for concern: More often than not, a .167 winning percentage is a strong indication that your team stinks.

Here's the rundown:

Larry Brown's Track Record
Team Previous Year The Brown effect
1972-73 Carolina Cougars (ABA) 34-50 Started 4-0, finished 57-27, 1st place
1974-75 Denver Nuggets (ABA) 37-47 Started 8-1, then 25-4, never slowed down much, finished 65-19, 1st place, won coach of the year
1982-83 New Jersey Nets 24-58 Started 1-7, then 3-12, got rolling, finished 44-38, made playoffs
1988-89 San Antonio Spurs 31-51 Started 6-8, finished 21-61. Next year ... Robinson arrives ... 56-26, 1st place
1991-92 L.A. Clippers Took over 22-25 team Started 5-0, finished 45-37 (25-12), made playoffs
1993-94 Indiana Pacers 41-41 Started 1-6, then 16-23, got rolling, finished 47-35, made Eastern Conference finals, lost in seven to Knicks
1997-98 Philadelphia 76ers 22-60 Started 0-5, then 6-19, got a little better, finished 31-51. Next year: 28-22, made playoffs
2003-04 Detroit Pistons 50-32 Started 0-1, then 5-4, improved, finished 54-28, won title
2005-06 New York Knicks 33-49 Started 1-5, amid lots of speculation that he's trying to change the roster.

Talk back to the Daily Dime gang

Dimes Past: November 3 | 4 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12-13


AK Is Not A-OK
Nash
AP Photo/Darren Hauck
Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko sprained his left ankle on Saturday and is expected to miss several games.



Dime Mailbag: Spurs, Pistons And A Norwegian Schmooze Line
det

Hey guys, you know what's scary about the Spurs right now? No, it's not Michael Finley, not Oberto, nor is it Nick the quick -- it's Tony Parker scoring no less than 18 in his first six games or so, averaging 23 points a game, and Duncan's so-called only weakness, his free-throw woes, doesn't seem to be a problem any more.
-- Jon (Austin)

Now that my boys (the Pistons) are off to a Rip (pun intended)-roaring 6-0 start, one thought comes to this basketball fan's mind: Are some of you experts over there starting to rethink your preseason picks for NBA Champ (and summarily who will come out of the East)? I know it's early, but it's got to make you wonder ...
-- Ken Cross (Detroit)

Dear Mr. Neel:
Thank you for the wonderful write-up on my beloved Bulls in today's Daily Dime. I had to read it three times, it pleased this displaced Chicagoan so much. Maybe you can give Marc Stein a little hint and tell him he has been underestimating the Bulls. ;^)
-- Richard Heyn (Oslo, Norway)



NBA Intelligence Report
Butler
Butler

So Far, Butler-Atkins Deal Looking One-Sided
"The interesting thing about the trade that sent Kwame Brown to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins is that while Brown claimed he was ready to be a "beast" this season, it is Butler who is playing like one. Brown is averaging 6.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, while Butler is averaging 17.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting 47.9 percent." -- Washington Post

Did Okafor Add Too Much Muscle?
"The most dependable Bobcat has gone three games without a double-double. (Emeka) Okafor showed up 25 pounds heavier this season than last. It's muscle, not fat, and you can see it in his arms and shoulders. But I wonder if the added bulk has cost him some flexibility and quickness. That's just a theory." -- Charlotte Observer

K-Mart Misses First Game
"Kenyon Martin, still not all the way back from offseason left knee surgery, missed his first game of the season Sunday. Martin said he didn't know how long he would sit. 'We're just going by the day, man,' he said. Denver general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said Martin's absence does not increase the urgency to bring in another big man, even with forward Nene likely out for the season." -- Denver Post

More NBA Intelligence


Trey Win, Go
Williams
AP Photo/Darren Hauck
Bucks guard Mo Williams reacts after hitting the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer against the Pacers on Saturday. It was his 12th trey of the season in 16 attempts.


Extreme Behavior
Lewis

Sunday's Best
Rashard Lewis, Sonics forward: Scored 41 to keep Toronto winless. Only qualification is the numbers came against the Raps, which is sorta like schoolin' the Yakima Sun Kings. Blowing an 18-point fourth-quarter lead is not cool. "It would have been real bad for us if we didn't win," Lewis told reporters afterward.

Alston

Sunday's Worst
Rafer Alston, Rockets point guard: How's that Mike James trade working out, Rockets fans? James scored 36 points for the Raptors on Sunday. Alston shot 2-9 FG, with one assist in a 102-82 loss to the Celtics. Not Rafer's fault the immortal Raef LaFrentz ran roughshod over Houston. But it's his bad that he has made three of his last 20 FG attempts. Alston and James combined to hoist 30 shots on Sunday and had but three assists. So much for the PG as distributor.

Nailon

Quote of the Night
"Y'all don't want to talk to me some other days."
-- Sixers reserve Lee Nailon, who scored 21 points in a 113-108 win over the Clippers, joking with rare interviewers.

See how all 123 who played stacked up

-- Andrew Ayres



Spree At Last? No
Sprewell

Jay (Denver): Chris! Now that Latrell Sprewell obviously isn't going to get the type of money he's seeking, don't you think the Nuggets should snatch him up at a reasonable price? I'd think Karl would be able to effectively manage a player like Spree.

Chris Sheridan: Latrell still seems to be under the impression he's worth what he was worth five years ago. His agent told the AJC [Atlanta Journal-Constitution] he'd be willing to play for the Hawks, which tells you all you need to know: Latrell cares more about money than winning. I thought Latrell would have been a good addition to the Nuggets before they gave their entire mid-level to Earl Watson.

See the complete Sheriden chat Insider



Elias Says
Arenas

It's safe to say that Gilbert Arenas left the MCI Center a happy man on Saturday night after tossing in an NBA season-high 43 points in the Wizards' 110-95 win over the Spurs. It marked the first time that anyone has scored 40 or more points in a game against "the defending NBA-champion Spurs" -- not just this season, but in any of the seasons following their three NBA championships.

Elias Sports Bureau | More from Elias Insider



Everything's Flip Shape
shirley
Saunders

When the Pistons hired Flip Saunders, many people sounded like Goldilocks, saying, "This one is just right."

Just five games into the season, no one should overreact to anything that has transpired. But so far, under the guidance of Saunders, this group from Motown is sending some early signals it knows what the expectations are and is up to the task, thank you very much.

Saunders can flat-out coach offensive basketball. The last four Minnesota Timberwolves teams he coached (for a full season) finished no lower than sixth in field-goal percentage, and two of his teams finished as high as second.

Read all of Jim O'Brien's story Insider



The Nation Speaks
det

Here's how the percentages broke down in a poll of SportsNation voters when asked in which upcoming game they thought the Pistons would suffer their first loss. (2,118 votes)

44.1: They won't lose any of these games
31.2: at Mavericks (Nov. 19)
13.7: at Rockets (Nov. 18)
3.9: vs. Celtics (Nov. 15)
3.9: vs. Nuggets (Nov. 23)
3.2: at Trail Blazers (Nov. 11)

 

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