Longtime Fixer and fellow blogger "Dan L" (check him out at Knicksfan.net) pointed out that Nate Robinson posted on his Twitter account on Tuesday that he believes his bench sentence is nearing the end.
That was posted before the game in Detroit, which became Robinson's 13th straight DNP-CD.
Tonight's 104-95 loss in New Jersey seemed a perfect opportunity for Mike D'Antoni to give Nate some burn. He had a lethargic team that was -- here I go with the Walt Frazierisms again -- tired and uninspired. Down 18 points in the third quarter seemed an ideal time to toss Robinson into the game to see if he could spark something with his energy and offense off the bench.
D'Antoni, however, stuck with his 9-man rotation. Rookie Toney Douglas (1-for-2, 0 assists, 2 turnovers in 6:32) brought absolutely nothing to the game and Larry Hughes (0-for-3, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers in 14:28) is clearly still not 100 percent after suffering a groin strain in mid-December.
Al Harrington had 25 points, but the rest of the bench, which included Jonathan Bender (1-for-4, 5 rebounds, 2 assists), managed just eight points.
In back-to-back situations such as these, a team has to be able to rely on its bench to carry some of the load.
But D'Antoni clearly won't budge when it comes to expanding the rotation. I'm not sure of the source of Robinson's optimism, but he certainly didn't seem to down about his status at the end of what should have been a frustrating loss for the Knicks. According to Dan L -- and I didn't see it because the media is situation diagonally across the court from the Knicks bench and therefore, our view isn't very good -- Robinson in the final minute of the game ripped off his warmups and pretended he was about to check into the game.
I also checked in with Robinson's agent tonight to see if maybe something was in the works that would have Nate on another team and, therefore, make his prediction of being "back on the court soon" a reality. But I was told there is nothing new on his situation.
* * * *
* - David Lee looked exhausted out there as he logged 43 minutes for a second straight night. He still put up some terrific numbers with 24 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 blocked shots. Lee was two helpers shy of recording the Knicks' first triple-double since Latrell Sprewell in Feb. 2003.
Of Lee's 15 boards, only one came on the offensive glass, which tells you the kind of time he had against 7-footers Brook Lopez and Yi Jianlian, which the Knicks made look like Olajuwon and Sampson. How about 60 points in the paint for Jersey?
* - Jared Jeffries' early foul trouble was a major factor and when he's not on the floor for extended stretches, the Knicks overall defense suffers. Jeffries and Lee do a great deal of communicating on defense and Jeffries is very active with help defense and switches. Once he picked up those two early fouls he had to give more space, which is to say he couldn't aggressively defend like he has been over the past month.
In saying that, I think this might have been the worst officiated game I have seen all season. Eddie F. Rush, Bennie Adams and especially Haywoode Workman had a brutal game. It made for a great first half with so few whistles, but in the second half the calls were terribly inconsistent (on both ends) and at one point Workman wasn't even watching the play properly and completely missed an obvious Knicks turnover. It came on a drive by Bender, who clearly lost the ball off his leg as he went to the basket. Workman, however, had to defer to Adams on the weak side, who would have had no chance to see the play. So they called a jump ball.
The crew also missed a goaltending by Lopez on Lee in the latter stages of the game.
* - I had the opportunity to chat with Nets CEO Brett Yormark before the game and we discussed the impending move to Brooklyn. Yormark said the team is working on playing at the Prudential Center in Newark next season as they transition to Brooklyn, which means this game could have been the Knicks final appearance at the Izod Center (formerly known as Continental Airlines Arena and the Brendan Byrne Arena).
It was always somewhat of a second home court for the Knicks, who, like tonight, always seem to have more than half of the crowd cheering for them. But it's not as if they've owned the Nets there at the Meadowlands. In fact, their record at the arena there is 22-44.
And let it stay that way.
Along with covering three Stanley Cup Finals -- and two championship runs -- in that building, the other lasting memory I will have of that arena is that back in the day it seemed every poster I owned was of the featured player (be it Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins or even Patrick Ewing) dunking on Mike Gminski at the Meadowlands. G-man was literally the poster-child for posterization.