The Knicks are taking the day off today. Chauncey Billups (thigh bruise) and Amare Stoudemire (sprained ankle) are listed as questionable for Friday night's game at New Jersey. An update should come at tomorrow's morning shootaround.
A few Knick-knacks:
• By going 5-for-8 from 3-point range in last night's victory at Philadelphia, Carmelo Anthony improved his 3-point shooting percentage to 44 percent since he was traded to New York. (With the Denver Nuggets, he converted 33 percent of his attempts.) Only five NBA players are shooting 44 percent or better on the season: Matt Bonner of San Antonio (.463), Ray Allen of Boston (.453), Mike Bibby of Miami (.447), Luke Ridnour of Minnesota (.446) and Richard Jefferson of San Antonio (.440). "Now, in this system, the amount of 3s that we take as a team, and the fact that you have to take them if you are wide open, I think it forces you to go out there and practice on your off days and work on that shot. And you know, it's all about confidence, and now I know that those are going to be a lot of the shots that are open and I'm going to have to take that, I just started working on that a little bit more."
• Mike D'Antoni is putting the players on the end of his bench through a sort of late-season tryout process, looking to see who he will rely upon in the playoffs. Roger Mason was inactive last night for the second straight game (he has sat out five straight), and D'Antoni went 11 deep in the first half. The only player who received a DNP-CD in the first two quarters was Ronny Turiaf, but he was the starting center (instead of Shelden Williams) when the third quarter began. "I wanted to give Ronny a shot, too, and I'm still looking at all of them," D'Antoni said. "It'll probably happen this way. It'll be matchups, it'll be looking at it, and everybody's got to be ready. (Shelden) will serve a big purpose for us, but also I'm going to keep Ronny. Ronny will play, and Jared (Jeffries) and all those guys. So we have 4-5 guys to choose from down there, and I do want to look at Derrick Brown and give him a shot."
• Billups on his right mid-thigh bruise (it is not the same thigh he injured in March when he collided with Dwight Howard): "It's sore right now, but I'll be all right. This is not like the last one, thank goodness. I gave it a try, just couldn't really turn, couldn't really explode off it. I didn't want to hurt the team being out there and not being able to move around like I wanted to," Billups said. "If I can play, I want to play. I feel like I'm back playing good again and playing well, and I don't want to miss a lot of time and have to take some more time to get back going."
• Stoudemire on his ankle sprain: "It's pretty sore. I sprained my ankle before this season, and this is more sore than it was then. I haven't played yet in Newark. Hopefully I can go. I'll get some treatment tomorrow and see how it feels." The only game Stoudemire has missed this season was the Knicks' 105-95 road victory over the Nets on Feb. 12.
• Billups, who sat out the final 18 minutes, said he offered some words of advice to Toney Douglas after the game about the proper way to run the offense down the stretch. After Stoudemire make an 18-footer with 9:31 left, no other Knick besides Douglas made a field goal until Anthony's 3-point dagger with 11 seconds left. Douglas scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, but he also had a turnover and was largely responsible for two 24-second violations as the Sixers were making a 17-6 run that gave them an 88-87 lead. "Just when to pick and choose. Know when to take your shots at the right moments, and know when the other guys need to get their shots. I've been learning that, especially having him by my side," Douglas said.