David Lee Paces Knicks Victory over Phoenix • Latino Sports


David Lee Paces Knicks Victory over Phoenix


New York, NY – David Lee was walking very gingerly in the locker room and this was before undertaking the unenviable task of having to defend Shaquille O’ Neal. By night’s end though, Lee and the New York Knicks would hold off the Phoenix Suns with a 114-109 victory.

The night didn’t start out the way the Knicks wanted. Especially coming off their Monday afternoon win over Chicago as Phoenix would take a 13 point lead (26-13) with a little less than 4 minutes to go in the first quarter. Then, the Human Sparkplug, Nate Robinson picked up where he left off the last time the two teams faced each other. In that game, a loss in Phoenix, Robinson scorched the Suns for 27 points. By the end of the quarter, Robinson would score 9 points to close the gap to 4 at 30-26. Lee, like the rest of the team started slow scoring only 3 points, focusing on defense and trying to keep Shaq out of the paint. The second quarter saw both Lee and the team pick up the pace.

New York outscored the Suns 21-8, taking a 9 point lead to start the second quarter with Al Harrington chipping in 8 points during the run. The lead wouldn’t last long as Phoenix and Shaq got into the flow. Trailing by 5, the “Diesel” slammed home 3 dunks, a short jump shop and a free throw to get them back within 2 points at 54-52. During that span, Lee quietly matched Shaq with 9 points of his own keeping them with 4 points at the half.

Knicks forward Tim Thomas talked before the game about how the team needed to spread the ball around and look for the open man instead of forcing shots that weren’t there. Knowing they were playing against one of the greatest point guards in the game today in Steve Nash, they knew that it would take a total team effort to keep up with the high powered offense of the Suns. They had to be feeling good at the half, matching the Suns in assists with 11. David Lee continued his offensive output scoring 8 points but added another dimension: grabbing a quarter high 8 rebounds as well. With the game tied at 74, New York would extend the lead to 8 points until Matt Barnes drained a 3 pointer at the buzzer to close the gap to 5.

Tim Thomas began the quarter committing his 4th and 5th foul. He had yet to score a point. Things quickly changed for him. Over the next 3:09, Thomas would score his only 10 points on the night. His 3 pointer would extend the lead to 96-89. Chris Duhon added 12 points and when the Suns closed the gap to 107-103, Lee would grab his 16th and final rebound which led to 2 Duhon free throws, pretty much locking up the game. In more than 35 minutes, Lee finished with 25 points on 12 of 21 shots. Afterwards, praise came from the head coach and teammates. “David Lee just the whole game was out of sight,” said Mike D’Antoni. He noted how Lee was able to hit his short jumper consistently. “He’s confident. We’re just trying to get him to get him to be aggressive and he’s one of the better shooters from that range”. Harrington, seated right next to Lee grinned when asked about the night Lee had. “You don’t expect those types of numbers but right now on the pick-n-rolls he’s unbelievable finishing. With Shaq not trying to guard him, left him wide open to shoot his little left-hand flat jump shot and he was able to knock them in”.

At game’s end, David Lee walked even more gingerly towards his locker. This time and justifiably so, both knees where wrapped in ice. The pain eased by the victory and knowing how much he contributed. Physically, he knew there was only so much he could do against a man who wears a size 23 sneaker. “When he (Shaq) was rested in the first half, there’s nothing I can obviously do to keep him from going where he wants to go,” Lee began. “The second half I think he got a little worn down”. Asked what he would have said if someone suggested he would have the kind of night he had against Shaquille O’ Neil he said, “I would have said that was a good possibility, but I would have said he might have had 40 and 20. I was just happy that I was able to defend him decently in the second half”. 

Knicks Notes by Andrew Rosario

New York, NY – Since coming off the injured list with a bad back, Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari has provided a spark off the bench. He made 4 of 7 field goals in his debut loss to Philadelphia. He had a better impact in the win over Chicago on Martin Luther King Day. He only hit 2 of 4 shots but helped extend the lead in a game they eventually won. Right now coach Mike D’ Antoni is limiting him to a little more than 15 minutes a game even though he might be tempted to extend the playing time. Said D’ Antoni, “I don’t think physically he can play much more minutes”. As much as Gallinari might want to play, he knows the coach has the final word. In the win against Phoenix he finished with 10 points on 4 of 7 shooting and a season high 18 minutes…

The rebirth of Shaquille O’ Neil continues. He credits the Phoenix Suns trainers for getting his hip healthy. The rehab wasn’t easy for the self proclaimed “Big Aristotle”. “It was kind of depressing,” he said before going out and scoring 20 points in the loss. “I thought it was over, not knowing the body, not knowing the muscles. When I met with the guys from Phoenix they explained to me what needed to be done”. Sh
aq, a notoriously poor free throw shooter decided to get back to basics and recently hit 12 straight over a two game period. Asked why he has been having success at the line he said, “Just going back to what I knew. When you try somebody else’s style it will never work”. Shaq attempted 13 free throws on the night and only made 5.

The last time the Knicks made the play-offs, Tim Thomas was on the roster and a big reason for them making it to the post-season. They got swept by the New Jersey Nets and he was body slammed by Jason Collins in game 1. The lower back injury kept him out for the remainder of the series. Making matters worse was the response or lack of response from his teammates who were slow to help him to his feet. Thomas also felt they should have retaliated at some point during the rest of the series in which they were swept 4-0. Thomas was traded in the off-season taking the bitter feelings with him. So you can imagine his reaction upon hearing he was traded back to the Knicks. “I was shocked a little bit.” he said as he was getting ready for the game. He was in the area as his Sacramento Kings team was scheduled to play Philadelphia. He got a call from his agent who told him not to bother going to the arena. When he was told his next destination, he couldn’t believe it. After the shock wore off, excitement set in. “It gave me an opportunity to be back home where my mom is.” Thomas played 1 year at Villanova (1996-97) before entering the draft after his freshman year.

Finally, of all the baskets David Lee made, his slam over Amar’e Stoudemire with 3:36 left in the 2nd brought the Garden crowd to its feet. The euphoria was short lived however as Nate Robinson was hit with a technical foul for barking at Stoudemire while Lee was getting off the floor. It was a classic case of Nate being Nate. 







About William Gerena-Rochet

William Gerena Rochet, is the former Latino Sports baseball editor. He is a retired NYC teacher who divides his time living between New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico. He started writing for Latino Sports during the inaugural World Baseball Classic when a series was played in Puerto Rico in 2006. On of his favorite moments was covering the 2006 MLB All-Star Game in Pittsburgh. During his time with Latino Sports, he covered several divisional and League championship series games and the 2009 World Series. He also covered the last game at the old Yankee stadium and the first game of the current one. In closing, William has covered multiples Latino Sports MVP Awards ceremonies and Spanish Language Press Conferences including the Jorge Posada retirement one. Now a contributor, Willie will occasionally cover the Yankees.