Knicks pull away after Harris goes down, beat NetsBy BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer Tuesday, Nov 30, 2010
NEW YORK (AP)—The New York Knicks tried to say that 19 games is too early for celebration.
For this franchise, though, it’s awfully late in the season to still have a winning record.
Mired in a franchise-worst stretch of nine straight losing seasons, the Knicks improved to 10-9, the latest in a season they’ve been above .500 since they were 16-15 on Jan. 4, 2005.
“Any kind of step forward, we’re taking,” coach Mike D’Antoni said with a laugh before trying to downplay the team’s record. “We are playing better and we can see we can get a lot better than this.”
A perennial 50-game winner in Phoenix, Stoudemire wasn’t too excited about a 10th victory.
“I think it’s just a matter of us just continuing to play, continuing to get better, understand that we’re a work in progress,” Stoudemire said. “We have great talent, we’re a young team and it takes a lot of studying in order to get to where we are now and we have to keep going.”
Harris limped to the back with a left knee injury after he was hurt on Chandler’s basket that snapped a 65-all tie midway through the third quarter. That was part of a 14-2 spurt that gave the Knicks a 10-point lead, and they were never really challenged from there.
Harris, tied for the Nets’ scoring lead with 18.2 points per game, was hurt when teammate Kris Humphries(notes) landed on the back of his leg trying to block Chandler’s fast-break layup. He remained on the court for a few minutes, then limped to the locker room with a Nets trainer.
Chandler then made two free throws, and after a follow shot by Lopez, the Knicks ran off eight in a row, with Stoudemire’s dunk off a pass from Felton extending it to 77-67 with 3:15 remaining in the quarter.
“Oh man, a big game changer. Devin is a guy that we rely on heavily,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. “In the sense it’s kind of like if they lose Stoudemire. On a lot of nights Devin’s been one of our top two players. It was tough to overcome it.”
Harris said he would have an MRI on Wednesday but didn’t think the injury was too bad.
“I’m not that worried,” he said. “Doctor says it feels pretty stable. Just want to rule out any tears.”
The Knicks outscored the Nets 33-15 in the third, taking an 88-73 lead to the final quarter, and Stoudemire kept it from getting close in the last 12 minutes by scoring 10 points for his second straight game with 35 or more.
Johnson cited Stoudemire as a reason the Knicks are currently ahead of the Nets as both try to build the top team in the area. They made the first two pitches to LeBron James(notes) in July and either would eagerly take Carmelo Anthony(notes) if he leaves Denver, but only New York has been able to land a superstar when it signed the former All-Star forward from Phoenix.
Both will play in New York once the Nets move to Brooklyn in 2012, but for now their rivalry mostly exists off the court. The Nets put a billboard featuring owner Mikhail Prokhorov and part-owner Jay-Z near Madison Square Garden, and the Knicks responded by putting Stoudemire on an ad near the site of the Barclays Center will stand in Brooklyn.
An ad ran during MSG Network’s telecast of the Knicks’ victory at Detroit on Sunday advertising this game by telling the Nets, “You can walk like us, you can talk like us, but you ain’t never gonna be like us.”
The Nets fired back in an e-mailed statement from Prokhorov on Tuesday that read: “I don’t think we want to be like the Knicks. I think we’d more like to resemble the Lakers.”
But both D’Antoni and Johnson dismissed the idea of a rivalry until it involves postseason meetings between the teams.
“You don’t really get a rivalry unless you’re in the playoffs,” D’Antoni said. “It doesn’t work during the regular season when you’re (saying), ‘Oh boy, we knocked them out of ninth place.”’
Lopez scored 15 points in the first quarter, but the Knicks led 30-28. The Nets had a 58-55 lead at the break.
Notes: Starting Knicks center Ronny Turiaf(notes) was out with a sore left knee. D’Antoni said he hopes Turiaf will play Friday when the Knicks visit New Orleans. … NBA Commissioner David Stern attended the game. … The Knicks presented the “City Spirit” award for November to 5-year-old Sayam Kamal, who helped save the lives of five people from a fire that broke out in his Queens house. The award is named in honor of Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, the first African-American to play for the Knicks.