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Observation Deck (cont.)

Posted: Tuesday March 27, 2007 3:12PM; Updated: Wednesday March 28, 2007 9:58AM
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Eddy Curry and the injury-plagued Knicks face an uphill battle to make the playoffs.
Eddy Curry and the injury-plagued Knicks face an uphill battle to make the playoffs.

The loss to the Magic dropped the Knicks 10 games below .500, their worst standing of the season and one that can be directly attributed to a rash of injuries since the All-Star break. Without Jamal Crawford around to feed him the ball, Curry alternates bouts of listless play (four rebounds in 38 minutes on Monday) with poorly timed attempts at aggressive post work. And the absence of David Lee is felt anytime any number of Knicks jump in the air to pass (Lee is brilliant at moving without the ball and gathering bad passes) or when an oddly spinning three-pointer clangs off the rim (Lee enjoys rebounding). Stephon Marbury's renaissance continues (22.5 points per game in March), but that's little consolation for a team two games out of the East playoff bracket with 12 to play.

• Yes, Golden State was coming off a devastating loss to the Lakers on the first night of a back-to-back set. And, yes, Golden State doesn't play any defense whether it's on the second night of a back-to-back or its first game in four nights. But anyone who watched the San Antonio Spurs decimate those Warriors on Monday (102 points through three quarters) and still doesn't think this team is as good as Dallas is a nutter.

Analysts love to point out how adept the Mavericks are at beating teams a number of different ways -- and they're right -- but the Spurs are just as good in that area. Also, the team's possession per game count is nearly identical to Dallas' -- meaning the Spurs employ the combination of half-court execution and irregular bursts of transition scores just as often as the Mavs -- and San Antonio's defense has been the best in the NBA over the last 10 weeks.

This doesn't mean I'm picking the Spurs to win it all (nobody should be picking any team right now) or that I think Dallas is overrated. I just get a sneaky feeling that this postseason is going to blow March Madness out of the water. Billy Packer will be hibernating by late April, so that's a start.

• I've already decided to leave him out of the next batch of Player Power Rankings, unless he drops 82 on Memphis this Thursday (don't put it past the Grizzlies), so this is as good a time as any to chat about how much Zach Randolph has disappointed over the last month or so. Early in the season, Randolph was making quick decisions with the ball when double-teamed (relative to his first five seasons, 'natch), he was at least trying to rotate on defense and he was putting up monster numbers for a young Trail Blazers team.

But he's fallen off of late, even though his per-game scoring numbers are still strong. The averages have sustained mainly because Randolph, too often, looks more interested in getting his 23 points than changing the outcome of the game. In Monday's loss to the Bulls, he chirped at teammates when they failed to deliver him the ball, shot over double teams instead of kicking the ball out, drove into triple teams and was baited into offensive fouls.


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