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Lee awaits all-star worthiness

David Lee of the New York Knicks reacts

David Lee of the New York Knicks reacts to a call against the Los Angeles Lakers during their game at Madison Square Garden. (Jan. 22, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

The Knicks haven't been over .500 since the 2000-01 season. Coincidentally, that's the last time they had representation in the NBA's all-star game.

It was close in 2007, when Eddy Curry was putting together a solid year as a dominant low post scorer. After 44 games, right before the all-star reserves were announced for the 2007 team, Curry averaged 19.4 points and 7.09 rebounds per game.

After 44 games this season, right before the all-star reserves will be announced on Thursday, David Lee is averaging the exact same 19.4 points with a more impressive 11.4 rebounds.

But here's the thing: Curry's Knicks were 18-26 at the time.

The Knicks record this season after 44 games? 18-26.

In 2007, the Eastern coaches gave the nod to young Dwight Howard, who had comparable numbers to Curry, but his Orlando Magic were 23-21.

Does the same thing happen to Lee this season?

Let's consider the options. Chris Bosh is a sure bet at forward. Gerald Wallace is averaging 18.5 points and 11 rebounds per game for a much-improved Bobcats team that is at .500 after a win over the Suns. The Hawks lead the Southeast Division and could see another player join Joe Johnson on the reserves list. Al Horford or Josh Smith? Take your pick.

Now it gets interesting. You can certainly make a case for Lee at this point. He has statistically been outstanding and has emerged as the Knicks most important player. But he is on a losing team and that team did just take a 50-point beating at home on Sunday and his defensive reputation certainly isn't a highlight on his resume. What may work in Lee's favor is that most coaches submitted their ballots after his 31-point, 17-rebound effort against all-star candidate Pau Gasol and the Lakers on ESPN's national broadcast on Friday.

But what about Paul Pierce? The Celtics lead the Atlantic and already have Kevin Garnett as a starter and there is a great argument that Rajon Rondo absolutely deserves a spot among the reserves. Do the Celtics actually have three worthy candidates? Not if the Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers only get two (Mo Williams could get selected, but his injury will keep him from playing).

It'll be interesting to see the results, which will be revealed Thursday on TNT. The coaches votes were due Wednesday.

Mike D'Antoni was sure to leave Lee in the game Tuesday despite a 30-point lead in the fourth quarter just so Lee could get his 10th rebound, which resulted in his 26th double-double of the season. D'Antoni believes Lee is deserving of an all-star selection.

Many others in the media agree -- TNT's Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley each included Lee among their picks -- but the only votes that matter are from the Eastern Conference coaches.

"I've heard some support from not only you guys [here in New York] but the national media," Lee said. "I guess we'll see how it turns out."

It should be noted that Danny Granger was an all-star reserve last season on a Pacers team that was 17-27 after 44 games.

One more thing: should Lee get an all-star spot, he would not only be the first Knicks all-star in nine years, but he'd be the first Knicks draft pick to make the all-star game in over 20 years. Amazingly, Mark Jackson was the last in 1989.

* * * 

* - Nate Robinson returned after missing one game with a hamstring strain, but it appeared he might have hurt his right wrist on a hard fall after being fouled by Sasha Pavlovic on a fast-break layup with 1:49 left in the third quarter. Robinson, a righty, even shot the free throw left-handed (and missed). Two possessions later, however, he drilled a three-pointer with his right hand and appeared to be fine after that.

* - Wilson Chandler played through a groin strain that kept him out of practice on Monday and finished with 20 points. D'Antoni kept Chandler's minutes restricted in the blowout just to make sure the injury didn't flare up.

* - Jordan Hill played 1:10 in the first half but was unavailable for extensive garbage time in the second half because, according to the team, he was feeling ill. The rookie wasn't on the bench but seemed OK in the locker room after the game.

* - The Knicks took 40 three-pointers -- seven shy of their NBA record set earlier this season -- and made 17 of them. They were 8-for-16 in the fourth quarter when the game was well in hand, as Jonathan Bender came off the bench launching seven and making four. It did seem a bit much and you wonder if there will be any carry-over into the next game between the two teams, which happens to be in only a few days -- Sunday in Minnesota.

* - Chris Duhon didn't hit a shot (0-for-3) but he did record 13 assists with zero turnovers in 31:04. The Knicks overall had 32 assists on 47 made field goals.

* - One final thought regarding David Kahn's comments from the previous blog about how he expects Ricky Rubio to make his NBA debut in a Minnesota Timberwolves uniform: that plan could change dramatically -- and Rubio could suddenly be very available -- should the T-Wolves (9-37) upset the Nets and win the draft lottery in May to earn the right to select Kentucky's John Wall.

Just bloggin.


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