Sports

Behind Nailon, Knicks Crown Kings

NEW YORK, NY –It was one of those ‘gimme’ games you get in the N.B.A. with such a long and drawn out season. You know the type, the latter end of a back-to-back especially after one of those classic 4 games in 5 night’s escapades when all you’re really thinking about before, during and after the game is home cooking and your own warm bed. NEW YORK, NY –It was one of those ‘gimme’ games you get in the N.B.A. with such a long and drawn out season. You know the type, the latter end of a back-to-back especially after one of those classic 4 games in 5 night’s escapades when all you’re really thinking about before, during and after the game is home cooking and your own warm bed. That is how the Sacramento Kings played after arriving early in the morning after a loss to the Tracy McGrady led Magic in Orlando. That being the case, the Knicks by right took advantage of the situation and secured their first win of the season, 95-88.

For a while there, the Kings actually played a lot like (Shaq’s new name for them) Queens. In the first half, neither Vlade Divac nor Chris Webber would post up the smaller Knicks. Instead they would heave long jumpers or pass off shots. Webber himself had a nightmarish time at the foul line, not only missing important free throws but clanging them so hard that the bounce backs were coming right back to him for “almost” rebounds.

Knicks newcomer 6-8 forward Lee Nailon played special throughout the game. But, he came up extremely big in the second half. And the 4th quarter he was simply dynamite, hitting 10 points and finishing one point behind leading scorer, guard Allan Houston with twenty. Nailon like Knicks coach Don Chaney said “looks somewhat slow, but he’s quick and gets to his spot faster than you’d imagine.” That part is particularly true. Nailon, being left handed has very deceptive moves on the baseline. He absolutely killed whomever the Kings had guarding him. If they put a shorter opponent on him, he’d shoot over him. If they put a taller person on him, he’d simply face him up and drive right by him and lay the ball up deliciously off the glass or finger-roll it in.

There no doubt was a buzz each and every time Nailon had the ball. Ironically, Sprewell whom Nailon is replacing in minutes at small forward garnered the same type of reaction when he first arrived here from Golden State a few years ago. Nailon isn’t as fast or quick end to end as Spree is, but he’s much bigger and at his age, 25 more explosive. His range isn’t like Spree’s but he can score on a bevy of shots being taller and again, left handed.

Nailon wasn’t the only hero on the court, there was forward Shandon Anderson playing out of his mind. He finished with an impressive 15 points. And he no doubt hand the Sports Center highlight of the night: a facial over Kings reserve forward, Gerald Wallace who’s is a jumping jack in his own right. The dunk was a momentum builder for the struggling Knicks and it placed Anderson in a good light with Knicks fans that are looking for a ‘whipping boy’. It may if nothing enhanced his trade value some also. No doubt that a deal will be done of some magnitude just as soon as Spree is up and running. There was something in the air about the Knicks talking to the Dallas Mavaricks about center Shawn Bradley and using the 4.5 million dollar exemption given to the Knicks for McDyess’ seaso ending knee injury.

But, my advice to the Knicks on that note is this: if point guard Nick Van Exel ain’t comin’ with Bradley, don’t bother!

JLHOOVER@BLACKATHLETE.COM

November 4, 2002
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