Reports started swirling on Monday that Amare Stoudemire was going to be out longer than first reported, now 6-8 weeks, because his knee was still giving him problems. And nobody was really all that shocked.
On Tuesday the Knicks confirmed the situation — Stoudemire is going to have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and will be out 6-8 weeks, as confirmed by the Knicks as well as Howard Beck of the New York Times and other Knicks writers.
So you are looking at a mid-to-late December return for Stoudemire. That would be 20 games at least into the season, likely more.
And yet, no Stoudemire could be a real blessing for the Knicks — Mike Woodson has hesitated to play Carmelo Anthony at the four because that is Stoudemire’s spot, and ‘Melo fancies himself a three on the wing. Which often leads to a lot of 20-foot contested jumpers, and while he’s arguable better at that shot than every NBA player who is not a 7-foot German scoring machine, it’s still an inefficient way to get your points.
But ‘Melo plays better at the four and the Knicks are better when he’s there. As our own D.J. Foster pointed out yesterday — according to 82games.com, Anthony had a PER of 29.5 as a power forward compared to a 17.4 PER at small forward. Look at the Knicks most efficient five-man lineups and they had no Stoudemire and Anthony at the four.
This injury forces Woodson and Anthony to do what is right for the team.
Not that things are all good. This injury leaves the Knicks thin along the front lines — Marcus Camby is questionable at best for the opener, Rasheed Wallace’s mind is willing but his flesh is out of game shape, and then you’re down to Chris Copeland. Tyson Chandler is going to get some heavy minutes early.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.