With Linsanity fading and the New York Knicks reeling, coach
Mike D’Antoni had finally seen enough – and his departure may have
unintentionally sparked his former team.
Coming off their most lopsided win of the season, the Knicks
seek consecutive victories for the first time in more than a month
when they open a home-and-home series with the Indiana Pacers on
Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
D’Antoni abruptly resigned Wednesday – reports say it was a
mutual decision with management – with New York mired in a six-game
losing streak, and the seven-game winning streak sparked by Jeremy
Lin’s emergence becoming an increasingly distant memory.
Interim coach Mike Woodson had little time to prepare for his
debut at the helm, but New York (19-24) responded Wednesday night
with a 121-79 home drubbing of Portland to end the skid.
“When you look into their eyes after something like this has
happened, you know, you wonder as a coach are they mentally
there,” said Woodson, whose team hasn’t won consecutive games
since the Lin-fueled run Feb. 4-15. “I just told them to take a
deep breath and relax and let’s go out and have fun and play
basketball the way I think we’re capable of doing it, and I think
J.R. Smith scored 23 points and Steve Novak added 20 as
reserves, while Amare Stoudemire finished with 17 and Carmelo
Anthony chipped in 16.
Lin, who flourished under D’Antoni’s pick-and-roll, faced-paced
offense, had six points, six assists and six turnovers.
“It’s going to be a different style, a different rhythm, but we
still need to figure it out because we don’t all have it figured
out just yet right now,” Lin said of playing under Woodson.
Stoudemire, meanwhile, believes he and Anthony will benefit from
“I just think he’s just going to utilize his leading scorers,”
Stoudemire said. “With myself and Carmelo, he’s going to utilize us
to make sure that we take advantage of our every opportunity out
there on the court. We’ve been profound scorers all our career, so
we’re going to make sure we take advantage of it.”
Anthony took advantage of the Pacers when these teams last met,
scoring 34 points including a 19-foot jumper with four seconds
remaining to lift New York to a 110-109 win at Indiana last April
The Knicks had lost three of their previous four meetings with
the Pacers (25-16), who set a season high Wednesday by shooting
56.6 percent in a 111-94 home win over Atlantic Division-leading
“It helps a lot,” Danny Granger, who scored a team-high 20
points, said of defeating a division leader. “This game had more
meaning than probably most people realized.”
The Pacers made a meaningful trade Thursday, dealing a
second-round pick to Toronto for veteran guard Leandro Barbosa.
Barbosa averaged 12.2 points in 42 games this season with the
Raptors, all coming in a reserve role
“He gives us added depth and scoring off the bench and will help
us as we make our run to the playoffs,” Indiana team president
Larry Bird said.
Tyler Hansbrough’s 29 points trumped 28 from Stoudemire and 25
from Anthony as the Pacers beat the Knicks 106-93 without Granger
on March 13, 2011, in their last visit to MSG.