By Chris Sheridan
Danilo Gallinari is the new starting power forward for the New York Knicks, with coach Mike D'Antoni announcing before Saturday night's home opener against the 76ers that Al Harrington will now be coming off the bench.
Friday night's slow start in Charlotte, when the Knicks fell behind by 21 in the first half before losing in double overtime, was one of the main contributing factors, and Harrington's 35 percent shooting over the first two games -- both losses -- didn't help his cause.
"I love it," Harrington said sarcastically. "I think I'm a starter, but on this team if coach needs me to come off the bench, I'm going to come off the bench, and I'm going to do it well.
"I'm going to be the best bench player, too," Harrington said, apparently an insinuation that he sees himself as the best player on New York's entire roster.
In addition to the lineup change, the Knicks had a little extra inner turmoil after Chris Duhon criticized his teammates for showing a lack of focus and preparation prior to the Bobcats game. Harrington said he thought Duhon was taking issue with shenanigans that took place during the layup line, while others thought Duhon was speaking more about a general loose attitude and too much goofiness in the locker room beforehand.
Whatever the case, Harrington didn't think it was as bad as Duhon did.
"I didn't think the preparation for the game was that bad. Last year, we had episodes with guys out there having dance contests and all types of stuff before games," Harrington said. "That's not what happened in Charlotte, but if Duhon saw that, he saw it and he has the right to comment on it because he's one of the captains of the team, and if he wants us to be more focused, we have to do that."
There was one additional variable that had the potential to affect the Knicks' performance Saturday night: Stephon Marbury told the New York Post that he was planning to attend, and was trying to acquire courtside seats.
UPDATE: Bizarro scene in the 1st quarter: Marbury arrived a couple minutes after tipoff, took a courtside seat directly across from the Knicks' bench, then pulled out a video camera and apparently tried to start live streaming the game. He even stood up during game action at one point and kept filming. An MSG security official spoke to Marbury during an ensuing timeout, and Marbury was gone from his seat and out of the building by the time the first quarter ended (Actually, it wasn't his seat. Marbury's tickets were for seats in Row A, not Row AA, which is the front row that Spike Lee always sits in. Marbury was asked to move to his proper section, but he instead chose to leave the arena.). Oh, by the way, the Knicks surrendered 40 points in the first quarter, and the groans directed at Jared Jeffries were worse than the ones he heard last season.
UPDATE No. 2: Quite the comeback by New York in this one, rallying from a 23-point deficit to force overtime before the Knicks simply ran out of gas. Larry Hughes came out of mothballs for 16 points, six assists and five rebounds, and coach Mike D'Antoni said he would remain in the rotation. David Lee (nine points, five rebounds) sat out the entire fourth quarter, and Gallinari sank eight 3-pointers in tallying a career-high 30 points. The Knicks' reserves outscored the starters 70-57.