By Royce Webb
Knicks Messiah, Revisited
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:
AP Photo/Darren Hauck
Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko sprained his left ankle on Saturday and is expected to miss several games.
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.
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 ...
Dear Mr. Neel:
So Far, Butler-Atkins Deal Looking One-Sided
Did Okafor Add Too Much Muscle?
K-Mart Misses First Game
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.
Quote of the Night
-- Andrew Ayres
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.
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.
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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.
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