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12 New York KNICKS
Chris Ballard
October 27, 2003
Trying to replace Latrell Sprewell won't be a walk in the Garden
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October 27, 2003

12 New York Knicks

Trying to replace Latrell Sprewell won't be a walk in the Garden

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POS.

PVR

PPG

RPG

APG

BPG

SPG

FG%

3FG%

FT%

DIKEMBE MUTOMBO#

C

137

5.8

6.4

0.8

1.54

0.17

37.4

 

72.7

KEITH VAN HORN#

SF

66

15.9

7.1

1.3

0.41

0.85

48.2

36.9

HOWARD EISLEY

PG

144

9.1

2.3

5.4

 

0.87

41.7

38.9

84.8

ALLAN HOUSTON

SG

60

22.5

2.8

2.7

 

0.66

44.5

39.6

91.9

KURT THOMAS

PF

97

14.0

7.9

2.0

1.20

1.00

48.3

 

75.0

#NEW ACQUISITION

Keith Van Horn knew the boos were coming. He just didn't know they'd come so soon. It took all of one shot—a three-pointer that clanged off the front of the rim—during his Oct. 11 Knicks debut at Madison Square Garden. Like an epidemic, the boos spread as the game went on and continued at the next preseason game. This is what happens when you falter while trying to replace Latrell Sprewell, the Garden favorite traded by New York for Van Horn in a six-player deal in July.

Knicks coach Don Chaney has pleaded for fans to "be fair" with Van Horn, explaining that the change in personnel won't make much of a difference defensively. "Keith's size can bother guys just as much as Latrell's quickness did," he says. As dubious as that comment is—Sprewell is an excellent defender, Van Horn a liability—a case can be made that the 6'10" Van Horn brings to the Knicks exactly what they lacked last season: length. He also lost 15 pounds over the summer and, at 240, can play small forward this year. "I'm lighter, quicker and more agile," says Van Horn, who spent five seasons in New Jersey and last season in Philadelphia. "I'll be able to run the break better and use my size to post up against mismatches."

Thus far, Van Horn's optimism has been an annual rite of fall. His tantalizing talent wins over coaches, each of whom thinks maybe he may be the one who can get Van Horn to play hard every night. When he does falter, the heckling comes quickly and mercilessly. And if Philadelphia was a rough environment for failure, New York is the epicenter of epithets. Still, Van Horn says he's ready for it. "As the season rolls on, I think the fans will see how hard I work, and they'll appreciate that."

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