New York Knicks: Steve Novak

Enough help for Melo? Too early to tell

October, 28, 2013
GREENBURGH, NY -- Carmelo Anthony needs more time to see if the New York Knicks have added enough help around him to be better than last season.

"It's still early," Anthony said on Monday after Knicks practice. "It's kind of hard to say what type of team we have. Do we believe we can win it? Yeah, we have to believe that.

"It's kind of hard to say right now as far as where our team is at, how good of a team we can be. It's a hard thing to address [now]."

The Knicks added Andrea Bargnani, Metta World Peace, Beno Udrih and rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. in the offseason. But savvy veterans like Jason Kidd and Kurt Thomas and bench pieces like Steve Novak and Chris Copeland have moved on.

This preseason, the Knicks have taken it slow with the health of players like Amar'e Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith. So the Knicks haven't really been able to see how they are at full strength for a long period of time.

"Yeah, that's what I mean," Anthony said. "You got new guys, you got guys with injuries, and all that stuff comes into play along the way."

Mike Woodson also says he isn't sure what his starting lineup will be for Wednesday's opener and whether Bargnani or World Peace will start.

Anthony is itching to see how the Knicks will look once the season starts. He's ready to start playing games and letting that answer some of the questions he's had to try to answer in the preseason.

"I'm tired of all the 'what's Coach Woodson's gonna do with the lineup?' and things like that," Anthony said of all the questions. "We're ready to go out there and play. It's about that time. We felt like we had a great training camp and it's about that time to get it going."

And Anthony surely hopes he will have a better supporting cast around him to keep up with others in the Eastern Conference.

"As a whole, the Eastern Conference is a lot tougher, top to bottom," Anthony said. "With all the teams who've gotten better and even some of the teams that have a chance to creep up into playoff position, the East is definitely [going to] be a powerhouse."

Felton: Reggie Bullock 'can really play'

June, 27, 2013
According to Raymond Felton, Reggie Bullock, a fellow North Carolina Tar Heel, had a "great workout" with the Knicks earlier this month.

Could Bullock be on the Knicks' draft board on Thursday night?

While the Knicks' position priorities are at point guard and in the frontcourt, there is a type of player they could use more of next season. That would be a mobile shooter in half-court sets, like a J.J. Redick or Kyle Korver type, who can not only run off of screens and shoot quickly from midrange to 3-point range, but also put the ball on the floor with one or two dribbles and still make the basket.

[+] EnlargeReggie Bullock
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelBullock's perimeter D and shooting skills could make him a valuable contributor this season.
A player like that off the bench would've sparked more movement at times in the Knicks' offense last season, giving them a different look from downtown instead of mostly stationary setups.

Bullock is one of the best players in the draft who fits that criteria, along with Allen Crabbe and Tim Hardaway Jr. Bullock is also a skilled defender, an attribute that appeals to coach Mike Woodson.

Felton believes Bullock has a solid future in the NBA.

"I did speak with him [during the pre-draft process]," the Knicks point guard told "I told him, 'When you go into these workouts, just play hard, try to shoot as well as you can and just show them that you're not just a shooter -- that you have an all-around game.' The kid can really play. He didn't have the season that he really wanted to have, but I think he's going to be all right in this league if he gets a chance."

Bullock has the size (6-7, 205), experience (three years in the ACC) and competitive nature to excel as a solid rotation player on the next level. His biggest area of improvement is driving to the hoop and deciding on when to make the right play. He's compared to Spurs shooting guard Danny Green, who broke the record for most 3-pointers made in an NBA Finals series.

TRADE POSSIBILITIES? Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert have value on the trade market, but it's unlikely the Knicks would deal either of them. Chandler is the team's foundation on both ends of the court, and Shumpert is a key part of their future.

But what if the Knicks made Steve Novak available? He is a one-dimensional player with defensive inefficiencies. That was a main reason why he didn't play much in the playoffs.

Perhaps the Knicks will want to avoid that issue again but throwing out his name on draft night -- along with maybe a future pick -- to a team with a higher selection. That way the Knicks could possibly land one of the best point guard prospects. Then at No. 24, the Knicks could hope Gorgui Dieng or Tony Mitchell is available to fill their second need: a big man.

So what does one insider think? Don't hold out hope for a trade.

"No one will take Novak's contract," a league source said. "Draft picks are assets because they allow [teams] to have players on the rookie scale. They new CBA is a game-changer in that regard."

Novak just wrapped up the first season of a four-year, $15 million contract.

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.

Prigioni's relentless approach sets tone

April, 27, 2013
Pablo PrigioniJared Wickerham/Getty ImagesPablo Prigioni works as hard after games as he does during them.
BOSTON -- Game 3 is just hours in the books, the Knicks comfortably up 3-0, but Pablo Prigioni is still putting in work.

Back at the team hotel, the Knicks starting point guard isn't laying low. He's working with Dave Hancock, the team's director of training and conditioning, to make sure his right ankle, which was recently sprained, feels even better.

Mind you, on Friday night, Prigioni played 30 minutes, and he had one of his best games as a Knick, finishing with nine points (three 3-pointers) and a career-high five steals.

Prigioni's relentlessness defines him. Off the court, he keeps to a strict diet and gets at least eight hours of sleep every night. He brought that determination to his ankle recovery, going beyond most players' routines. How he was able to quickly bounce back, missing only Game 1, surprised some of his teammates, including Steve Novak.

"He worked literally three, four times a day in the morning, early in the day and late at night doing treatments with Dave Hancock, our trainer," Novak told "Every time we were at practice, [Prigioni] was in there working. He was coming back for sessions at night, he was going to [Hancock's] house for sessions, so how quickly he got back is not typical."

On Friday night, Prigioni wasn't even 100 percent healthy. He said he was at 85 percent.

"Pablo's been unbelievable," J.R. Smith said. "I mean, the transition he's made into the NBA has helped us. He's getting steals and scrambling and making shots."

The way Prigioni keeps his body in check is the same way he keeps his opponents in check. After Avery Bradley scored 15 points in Game 1, Prigioni has limited him to eight points combined in Games 2 and 3 since then.

"He's really aggressive on the defensive end," Iman Shumpert said. "He's always trying to get us a new opportunity with a quick steal or a quick offensive rebound."

After the game, Carmelo Anthony said that Prigioni set the defensive tone for the Knicks, who had their best first half in the series, holding the Celtics to 31 points.

Shumpert (three steals) and the rest of the team followed suit. In fact, while they had 14 steals and only 11 turnovers, the Celtics had only six steals and 17 turnovers.

"I think we were pretty active today, all the guards," Prigioni said. "We got a lot of steals and, of course, we frustrated the opponent."

Prigioni also frustrated the Celtics with his extra burst off of pick-and-rolls and quick-release 3-point shooting. An overlooked element of his game is how he's adjusted to the speed of NBA play since he became the starting point guard. The faster pace he's been playing has boosted the Knicks' transition game.

"I think I'm adjusting finally," Prigioni said. "At the end of the season, I feel more comfortable with the rhythm, with this basketball."

This is Prigioni's first NBA playoff run, and he said that the only way he'll enjoy it is if the team continues to play well and wins. Of course, he'll be a big reason for that.

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.

Notebook: Injuries plague season finale

April, 18, 2013
[+] EnlargePrigioni
AP Photo/Mary AltafferKnicks starting PG Pablo Prigioni sprained his right ankle in the first quarter. He is listed as day-to-day.
Mike Woodson didn't play six players on Wednesday night due to rest -- Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin -- which left the roster against the Hawks with eight players.

But for the last five minutes of the game, that number whittled to six. That's because Pablo Prigioni suffered a sprained right ankle in the first quarter (X-rays were negative), and then Iman Shumpert took the bench in the fourth quarter with leg cramps.

Prigioni is listed as day-to-day, but Steve Novak doesn't believe the starting point guard's injury will keep him out of Saturday's Game 1 against the Boston Celtics.

"To lose him and his energy and his defense and just his vision on the court, would be huge," Novak said. "But I don't think that's the case. I know he's a tough guy, and I know he'll play if he has to. He's not a big icer, but I imagine he'll ice now if he has to."

Shumpert doesn't anticipate any setbacks, but the cramps are something to monitor because he's had them in the past, especially during his rookie season.

"I haven't felt them in a while," he said. "It was just a bad charley horse in my thigh. I think I was just a little too excited, stomped too hard when 'Flight' [James White] caught the dunk in the fourth. I get happy when my teammates do exciting things."

[+] EnlargeChris Copeland, Anthony Tolliver
Debby Wong/USA TODAY Sports Chris Copeland scored 33 points before leaving the game with a shoulder injury.
There was actually a chance the Knicks would only have five players available for most of the final period because Chris Copeland suffered a left shoulder injury about five minutes before Shumpert was subbed out. Copeland got hurt when he drew a foul on Anthony Tolliver going up for a shot in the paint.

"It doesn't feel too great right now -- I'm sure tomorrow won't be even better -- but I'll be fine by Saturday," he said. "It popped out for a second. It was one of those quick pops, and it went right back in. They called it a stinger."

Copeland continued the game and finished with a career-high 33 points on 14-for-29 shooting. He became the first Knicks rookie in 33 years (since Bill Cartwright) to score 30 points in back-to-back games.

"That's cool, man," Copeland said. "Just one of those things. I'm glad we got the win more than anything and finished the season the right way for our fans at home."

Q'S DEBUT: It had been four years since Quentin Richardson took the court at the Garden. In his season debut Wednesday night, he scored five points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Afterward, he joked he was so tired that he needed some fluids.

"I'm gassed. There's no doubt it," he said. "I said, 'They better have the IV waiting for me,' but I made it through. It was cool."

Richardson reflected on his New York return.

"It was awesome, man," he said. "I feel really blessed. The crowd was great; I heard a few 'Q's' when I was going in, so that made me feel really good. The fans have been great on Twitter and all of that stuff since they heard about the signing, so it's just great to be back."

SHEED LEAVES: Novak shared his thoughts on Rasheed Wallace retiring -- for the second time -- and his impact on the Knicks this season.

"He's been just such a huge part of our team this year," he said. "He's a voice in the locker room, someone who's won a championship and someone who everyone respects. Obviously to hear that he's done for good -- although he's said that before and come back -- I know this is probably it, and it's just been a honor playing with him."

MELO MAKIN' MOVES!: For the first time in his 10-year career, Anthony won the NBA scoring title, outdoing Olympic teammate Kevin Durant 28.7 to 28.1 points per game. The closest Melo had been previously was a second-place finish in 2006-07, when he averaged 28.9 points per game. Kobe Bryant was at 31.6.

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.

Rapid Reaction: Knicks 113, Jazz 84

March, 9, 2013

Their top two offensive threats are out due to injury, so the Knicks relied primarily on defense -- what else? -- to get the job done against the Jazz on Saturday night.

The Knicks beat the Jazz 113-84 hours after learning that they'll be without Amar'e Stoudemire for approximately six weeks because the power forward needs surgery to repair wear and tear in his right knee.

They also played without Carmelo Anthony, who missed his third straight game with a sore right knee.

But it was no Stoudemire, no Melo, no problem thanks to a huge effort from J.R. Smith (24 points), Steve Novak (20 points) and Raymond Felton (15 points).

Thanks to a stellar night guarding the rim from Tyson Chandler, New York held Utah to just 37.7 percent shooting. The Jazz missed 18 of 25 3-point attempts but, it should be noted, that Utah was on the final game of a four-game road trip, on which they were winless.

JUMPIN' J.R.: With Stoudemire out, Smith becomes the Knicks' unquestioned secondary scoring option (assuming Melo comes back at some point).

On Saturday though, Smith was the Knicks' No. 1 option, and he fit that role just fine.

Smith had 24 points on an efficient 10-for-18 shooting. He hit four of eight from beyond the arc and had 11 points in the fourth quarter.

He punctuated the Knicks' win with an emphatic double-clutch dunk midway through the fourth quarter.

STEVIE KNICKS: The Knicks got a shot of Novakaine on Saturday night, and it was sorely needed. Novak helped pick up the slack for his banged-up teammates with a 20-point night. He hit five of 10 3s and even took it to the rim once after throwing a ball fake from beyond the arc. Somewhere on the sideline, Mike Woodson was smiling.

RAY'S DAY: Felton, incredibly, was a plus-34 in his 24 minutes on the court. He had four assists and three turnovers as the Knicks led by as many as 19 in the first half and 32 in the fourth. Kenyon Martin contributed 10 points, six rebounds and two steals in 22 minutes, and Chris Copeland scored 12 points in just seven minutes.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks have a day to breathe before embarking on a five-game, seven-day road trip out west. They play four teams currently in line to make the playoffs and a Portland team that's tough at home.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

By the Knumbers: Novak's in a zone

December, 16, 2012
A review of notable stats and trends from the past week.

What the shot-chart shows
Remember Steve Novak’s shooting slump?

The good news is that his hot streak has lasted twice as long.

Novak has been terrific from long range for nearly a full month. After a 9-for-34 slump over a seven-game stretch, Novak has since made 39 of his last 76 3-pointers (51 percent) in his last 14 games.

Novak has been awesome from both corners. The 19-for-32 from the left side shown in the zone chart came after a stretch in which Novak was 1-for-9 from that spot. Such is the life of a 3-point shooter.

Combine the hot and cold streaks together and Novak is 23-for-43 (53 percent) on left-side 3-pointers this season.

Novak finally found the touch on those 3s that are more of the straight-on and wing-based variety in Saturday’s win. He made 4-of-5 from that area in Saturday’s win against the Cavaliers.

Prior to that game, he was 9-for-32 on 3-pointers from that area this season (28 percent). Last season, he was 25-for-57 (44 percent).

Novak has made at least four 3-pointers in each of his last two games. The Knicks are 7-0 this season in games in which Novak has made at least four shots from downtown after going 11-5 in those games last season.

Novak’s teams have won 18 straight home games in which he’s made at least four 3=pointers, a streak that started as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers against the Knicks in February, 2009.

One last Novak stat: The Knicks have outscored opponents by 33 points when he's been on the court in the last four games. When he's been out, the Knicks have been outscored by 19.

Cutting down the Nets
Carmelo Anthony’s 45 points were the most by anyone against the Nets since Kobe Bryant scored 46 against them in November, 2005.

Getting a little more specific: Who was the last player to score at least 45 against the Nets in December? Then-Washington Wizards guard Michael Jordan, who went for 45 on New Year’s Eve, 2001.

Lakers leftovers
The Knicks shot 53 percent from the field in Thursday’s win, the best they shot against the Lakers at Madison Square Garden since shooting 57 percent on January 3, 1984. Their top performers that day were Bill Cartwright (9-for-14), Bernard King (9-for-14) and Truck Robinson (8-for-12).

Tyson Chandler had a 20/10 game, and was 9-for-10 from the field. Chandler has had three regular-season games as a Knick in which he’s gone 20-10 and shot at least 90 percent from the field. The rest of the NBA has two such games in that span (since the start of last season).

Chandler had only one such 20/10 game in the first 10 seasons of his NBA career.

Kyrie Irving scored 41 points against the Knicks on in his team’s loss. He’s the fourth player to score 40 against the Knicks in a regular season game over the last three seasons (Blake Griffin, Andrea Bargnani, and Paul Pierce). All four did so in a losing effort.

Elias Stat of the Week
Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony had 30 points before leaving the Knicks win against the Los Angeles Lakers with a sprained ankle.

Anthony was the first player to score 30 points in 23 minutes or fewer since ESPN analyst Jalen Rose did so against the Knicks for the Toronto Raptors in 2006.

No Knicks player had scored 30 or more points while playing less than 24 minutes since Johnny Green (33 points in 22 minutes) in a neutral-site contest against the San Francisco Warriors in Philadelphia on December 30, 1964.

Progress for Amare?

April, 12, 2012
MILWAUKEE -- There's no clear-cut return date for Amare Stoudemire.

But he appears to be making progress.

Before Wednesday's game in Milwaukee, Stoudemire ran a full-court drill for the first time in his pregame rehab sessions. Stoudemire ran up and down the floor with assistant coach Kenny Atkinson, converting on dunks and layups.

He also shot from the perimeter and worked in the post against Atkinson.

The next likely step is for Stoudemire to take contact. The Knicks would prefer for Stoudemire to do so in practice, though Mike Woodson said earlier this week that Stoudemire may not have time to practice before he hits the court.

Stoudemire politely declined comment on Wednesday and hasn't spoken to the media since the team announced he'd be out 2-4 weeks with a bulging disk in his back.

He had an epidural shot to relieve the pain on March 29. Thursday would be two weeks from the day of the shot. The team originally said he'd be out 2-4 weeks.

For now, Woodson is taking a wait-and-see approach with Stoudemire.

"I've got to think that the doctors and Amare are on the same page in terms of where he is," Woodson said on Tuesday. "When they tell me he's ready to go he'll be right back in the starting lineup, where I expect him to be."

MELO'S HAND, FINGER OK: In the first half, he winced and grabbed his right wrist before a trip to the line in the second quarter.

In the fourth, he was hit on the left hand, hurting his finger. He slammed the ball in frustration because he said he lost feeling in his finger. He was whistled for a technical foul. He walked off the floor flexing his hand.

Nonetheless, Carmelo Anthony was strong for the Knicks yet again. He scored his 32 points came on an efficient 13-for-26 night from the field. He also had 10 rebounds.

After the game, Anthony said his finger and wrist were fine.

"It was a very physical game," he said.

FAMILY AFFAIR FOR NOVAK: Steve Novak had his grandparents, mother, father, sister and brother in the stands at the Bradley Center on Wednesday.

The Milwaukee native gave his family something to cheer about when he knocked down two free throws with 19 seconds to play to seal the Knicks' win.

Prior to Wednesday's game, Novak had missed his last seven 3-point attempts.

Woodson admitted before the game that the Knicks needed to do a better job of getting Novak open looks. Novak finished Wednesday's game with 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting. He knocked down two of his five attempts from beyond the arc.

Novak on pace to set an NBA 3-point record

March, 5, 2012
Steve Novak is on pace to attempt 3-pointers at the highest rate (per 36 minutes) in NBA history. Entering Monday, Novak is attempting 10.7 threes per 36 minutes, and he's capitalizing on them. He's shooting 47.5 percent, which currently ranks as the 25th-best mark ever in a single season.

Below is a breakdown of the top-five attempt artists in NBA history. Novak's teammate, J.R. Smith, is second on the all-time list.
  1. Dee Brown (Raptors in 1999-00) -- 10.0 attempts (35.8 percent)
  2. J.R. Smith (Nuggets in 2007-08) -- 9.9 attempts (40.3 percent)
  3. Joe Hassett (Warriors in 1981-82) -- 9.8 attempts (33.2 percent)
  4. Daequan Cook (Thunder in 2010-11) -- 9.3 attempts (42.2 percent)
  5. J.R. Smith (Nuggets in 2006-07) -- 9.3 attempts (39.0 percent)

Since February, Novak has made the second-most 3-pointers, just trailing Magic power forward Ryan Anderson. They prove just how important it is for a team to space the floor well and have an effective stretch four. What's more impressive about Novak is that his 45 threes compared to Anderson's 51 have come in 261 less minutes.

Most 3-Pointers Made Since February

3-point field goals | 3-point field goal percentage | Minutes

Ryan Anderson (Magic) -- 51-for-112 | 45.5 | 555
Steve Novak (Knicks) -- 45-for-93 | 48.4 | 294
Jason Richardson (Magic) -- 40-for-87 | 46.0 | 386
Deron Williams (Nets) -- 39-for-105 | 37.1 | 566
Kevin Durant (Thunder) -- 37-for-94 | 39.4 | 676

Source: ESPN Stats & Info

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.

Bench outplaying starters

March, 5, 2012
For the second straight game, the Knicks' bench went off.

Knicks reserves scored 45 on Sunday against Boston. They had 50 on Wednesday against Cleveland.

"We've got a lot of athleticism," Baron Davis said. "Just good basketball players in our backcourt coming off our bench. At any moment any one of us can be out there making a huge difference."

Steve Novak had 14 points and went 4-of-7 from beyond the arc on Sunday. Iman Shumpert had 14 on 6-of-9 shooting, including a thunderous third-quarter dunk. Davis had eight points, seven assists and six turnovers.

In plus/minus rating, a measurement of the score during an individual's time on the floor, the Knicks' bench is outplaying the starters, according to ESPN Stats & Information's William Cohen.

In a combined 89 fewer individual minutes played, the Knicks' five bench players (Davis, J.R. Smith, Shumpert, Novak, Jared Jeffries) have averaged an individual plus-19.8 while the starters (Jeremy Lin, Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler) have averaged an individual minus-1.4.

In the last two games, the Knicks' starters as a five-man unit are minus-13 in 28 minutes and the Knicks' bench as a five-man unit is plus-17 in 22 minutes.

Stats courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information's William Cohen

From Linsanity to Linsomnia

March, 2, 2012
The city that never sleeps is apparently home to the basketball team that never sleeps.

Knicks guard J.R. Smith confirmed that a doctor visited the team Thursday to provide tips on how to get to a good night's sleep.

"It was really just to make sure we get our rest, make sure we don't oversleep and make sure we don't under sleep," Smith said. "Sleep is such a big part of our everyday lifestyle, especially going out there and exerting so much energy on the court, so we have to catch up on rest as much as we can."

In an appearance on ESPN New York 1050's "The Michael Kay Show," Steve Novak said some Knicks might have trouble falling asleep after games because of the adrenaline rush they get while playing at the Garden.

"It has a lot to do with just being so amped when we leave the game and our adrenaline's up and we're so juiced that when you leave, it's hard to go to sleep," Novak told Kay and Don La Greca.

Smith said he's still adjusting to life in a new time zone. He spent nearly five months playing in China during the lockout.

"After the games it's kind of hard for me to sleep anyway. The adrenaline still pumps," Smith said. "A lot of time I really don't get a chance to go to sleep until 1:30, 2 o’clock in the morning after the games. Just trying to cut all the lights out in my room and try to get bed as early as possible."

The doctor suggested players listen to sleep-inducing relaxation music to get to bed.

"It's kind of weird when you first heard the voices on there," Smith said. "I'm sure we'll get used to it."

Mike D'Antoni laughed when asked about the visit from the doctor, who he said is one of the tools the team uses to ensure the players' well-being.

"It is New York, right?" he said, adding "Normally when I talk to [the players] it puts them to sleep."

Not all Knicks are up late at night after games.

Jeremy Lin, the player who has created all of the hysteria, is one of several players who have no problem falling asleep.

"I can pretty much sleep whenever or wherever," he said.

Novakaine has most NBA 3s since Feb. 6

March, 2, 2012
It must have been an omen.

In the 12 games since Jeremy Lin joined the Knicks' starting lineup on Feb. 6, Steve Novak has played at least 15 minutes in every game, connecting on a league-high 41 3-pointers (47.7 percent). Before that, Novak played in only 11 of the Knicks' first 24 games, logging 15-plus minutes only once.

Steve Novak This Season

Before Feb. 6 | After Feb. 6

Points per game -- 3.4 | 12.7
Field goal percentage -- 42.4 | 49.5
3-point field goals -- 12-for-27 | 41-for-86
Plus-minus -- +7 | +100

Of Novak's plays this season, 82.3 percent have been catch-and-shoots. Novak is shooting 52.0 percent on such plays, most being 3-point attempts.

Most Points Per Play In Catch-And-Shoots This Season*

Brandon Rush (Warriors) -- 1.56
Steve Novak (Knicks) -- 1.51
Mike Miller (Heat) -- 1.49
Mario Chalmers (Heat) -- 1.43
*Minimum 50 field goal attempts

Source: ESPN Stats & Info

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.

Who's shooting a last-second three?

March, 2, 2012
In the wake of Steve Novak's remarkable night against Cleveland,'s Ian O'Connor posted an interesting question on Twitter on Thursday afternoon.

If you had to pick one player for a sudden-death, open three-pointer, would you pick:

A) Allan Houston
B) Bill Bradley
C) Trent Tucker
D) Steve Novak

If you're drawing up the play, who gets the ball?

Let us know in the comments section below.

D'An jokes cheese is Novak's key ingredient

March, 1, 2012
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- After Thursday's practice at the Knicks' training facility, asked Mike D'Antoni if Steve Novak had any unique practice routine that compared to other shooters he's coached.

"I don't know. I hear he eats a lot of cheese," D'Antoni said, smiling. "I have no idea."

Kirby Lee/US PresswireIf Steve Novak keeps this up, you might see Cheeseheads at MSG -- as long as they're not attached to Packers fans, of course.

Novak, a Wisconsin native, has connected on 41 of 86 3-pointers (47.7 percent) since Feb. 6, including five threes Wednesday night in a 120-103 rout over the Cavaliers. After hitting consecutive 3-pointers in the third quarter, he copied Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' "title belt" celebration, which has become more famously known as the "Discount Double-Check," due to the NFL MVP's series of State Farm commercials.

"I'm a huge Packers fan. I was a huge Brett Favre fan and now obviously Aaron Rodgers," said Novak, who played college ball at Marquette, which is located in Milwaukee. "Our team security had been trying to get me to do [the celebration] for a long time. I didn't even think about it, but it felt good."

After the Cavaliers game, Novak said his day-to-day preparation is dictated by the shortened season's cramped schedule. He said the added amount of games during a given week allows him to stay in rhythm more.

"I think, to be honest, and it may seem funny, but the amount of games that we're playing I feel like helps," Novak said. "Because you never go that long of a stretch without getting up or down about a great night or a down night. In like two hours, it's kind of like so what? You've got to do it again tomorrow.

"It's a what-have-you-done-for-me lately kind of thing. It's just kind of nice to know that if you miss a couple or it doesn't go your way one night, you get to play right away. So I feel like it's kind of easier to keep that groove because mentally it's easy too."

After Wednesday's win, the Knicks are now 8-1 when Novak makes at least three 3-pointers in a game. It's not a number he's going to get caught up in, but he likes the sound of it.

"I don't like thinking too much about statistics," he said. "But I think if I can make three, I guess that's good for everybody."

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.

D'Antoni: Starters will play fewer minutes

March, 1, 2012

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Mike D'Antoni is prepared for the second unit to play more.

"It has to if we're serious about trying to do something important in the postseason," the Knicks' head coach said after Thursday's practice. "Everybody's got to buy into playing less minutes and stepping up, not only offensively but defensively."

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty ImagesJ.R. Smith is averaging 10.8 points in his five games as a member of the Knicks' bench brigade.

During a 120-103 rout of the Cavaliers on Wednesday night, the second unit -- Baron Davis, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, Steve Novak and Jared Jeffries -- posted 50 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and five steals for the Knicks (18-18), who are 10-3 since Feb. 4.

In his previous three games, starting forward Amare Stoudemire didn't surpass the 30-minute mark -- but he's not complaining about sitting a little.

"No, it's OK. We feel good about that," Stoudemire said. "We feel great about the fact that we can play our second unit. That's a beautiful thing for us because that's going to be something that's very important going down the stretch during the season and on to the playoffs.

"It wasn't just defense. It was offense also. We scored 33 points in the third quarter [Wednesday night]. We played a great all-around basketball game as far as the second unit. They did a phenomenal job for us."

D'Antoni has not closed the door shut on his starting lineup. He provided a window of opportunity for Davis last week when he returned, and said things could change depending on who's playing the best consistently. But he stressed that he wouldn't make any sudden adjustments.

"It can't just be one game. I'm not going to just throw people under the bus for one or two games," D'Antoni said. "But over a length of time, if they prove that they need to be out there, they'll be out there."

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Opening Tip: The Rotation

March, 1, 2012
Every weekday throughout the season, will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip."

Today's Burning Question: If you were head coach of the Knicks, how would you divide minutes among all of your healthy players?

How will Mike D'Antoni handle the Knicks' rotation?

"I hope I don't mess it up too much," he said with a laugh after the Knicks' win over Cleveland.

How would you handle it?

There's plenty of issues: you have to divide minutes between Josh Harrellson and Steve Novak, find a way to balance Baron Davis' minutes with Jeremy Lin, keep J.R. Smith happy and Iman Shumpert fresh.

You may also want to mix Amare Stoudemire into the second unit to give him an opportunity to screen on the pick and roll.

Which leads us to our question: How would you handle the rotation? How would you divide up minutes among your healthy players?

Let us know in the comments section below.



Carmelo Anthony
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
ReboundsC. Anthony 8.1
AssistsP. Prigioni 3.5
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2