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Unpolished Knicks to face two of East's best: Magic and Bulls

Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah Photo Credit: Getty Images

With his team trailing the Knicks in the final minutes Saturday night, Portland guard Brandon Roy kept saying, “Maybe we can steal this one.” And the Trail Blazers did, sending the locals to their second straight loss.

That’s how opponents talk about the 2010-11 Knicks (1-2). Yet, while their youth makes them unpolished, they don’t quit. Here are three keys to getting through a tough week, against Orlando (1-1) Tuesday night and Chicago (1-1) on Thursday.

Play D
The Knicks led by 16 in the first half in their win over the Raptors and led by nine in the fourth quarter against the Trail Blazers — and blew both leads. Chicago has already shown comeback ability in escaping a 21-point deficit to beat the Pistons. Young teams tend to get flustered when the heat comes on late in the game, something the Knicks need to grow out of quickly. Their main concern will be keeping Chicago’s Joakim Noah, at left, (league-leading 36 rebounds in two games) off the boards.

Get Gallinari on target
He’s got a sore right wrist that is limiting his playing time, but he’s going to have to fight through that. Having Amar’e Stoudemire around to take charge is great, but the Knicks also are relying on Danilo Gallinari to hit from inside and out, and going 5 of 18, as he did in a combined effort against Toronto and Portland, isn’t going to cut it. The Italian may have to stay on the outside to avoid the Magic’s outstanding center Dwight Howard. And no one should expect the Magic to shoot that dismal 30 percent from the floor, as it did during Friday’s blowout loss to the Heat.

Dish Felton
Opponents are averaging almost eight more assists than the Knicks, and guard Raymond Felton is responsible for that. Stoudemire needs the chemistry that made him a star in Phoenix with Steve Nash, and Felton hasn’t provided it. Finding it this week would certainly help against two teams with good interior defense.

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