Saturday, March 5, 2011
Chauncey Billups questionable Sunday
By Ian Begley
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups is questionable for the Knicks' road game against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night due to a bruised left thigh.
Billups has missed the past two games with the injury, including Friday's disastrous 119-115 loss to the 12-win Cavaliers.
He did not participate in any team drills in Saturday's practice and was dribbling and shooting during the portion of practice open to the media. Billups was moving around gingerly with a noticeable limp.
It was the first time he'd picked up a basketball since suffering the injury Tuesday in a collision with Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.
Billups said afterward that he felt significant pain while pushing off or trying to come to a stop using his left leg.
"I'm feeling better, not quite where I'd like to be, of course," Billups said. "If the game was today, I'm sure I probably wouldn't be able to play."
Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni believes there is a "50-50" chance Billups will play against Kirk Hinrich and the new-look Hawks on Sunday night.
Knicks big man Ronny Turiaf, who sat out Friday's loss to the Cavs with a sore left knee, is also questionable against the Hawks, as is reserve Bill Walker (sore left knee). D'Antoni said both players' availability would depend on how they respond to treatment prior to the 6 p.m. ET tipoff.
Jared Jeffries replaced Turiaf in the starting lineup Friday. Jeffries picked up three fouls five minutes into the second quarter. He finished with one point and four rebounds in a season-high 26 minutes.
Backup Toney Douglas has been filling in for Billups.
Douglas had 11 points, five assists and five rebounds against Cleveland but was part of a unit that blew a 12-point fourth quarter lead against the Cavs, who had lost 26 straight road games prior to Friday's win. Douglas played well in the Knicks' win over the Hornets Wednesday, finishing with 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting.
Billups, 34, has been a linchpin for the Knicks (31-29), averaging 23.3 points and six assists in four games with New York. Billups was acquired in the three-team, 13-player deal that brought Carmelo Anthony to New York on Feb. 22.
D'Antoni said on Saturday that he didn't want to rush Billups back from the injury. The Knicks are 1-1 without him.
Billups believes he will still feel pain in his thigh for "a few weeks" after he returns to the court.
The Knicks felt Billups' absence on defense Friday night. Cavaliers guards Ramon Sessions and Baron Davis hit key baskets in Cleveland's 27-11 run in the final seven minutes of the game.
"He's your vocal leader out there," D'Antoni said of Billups. "He gets them together ... he's a step ahead of the game and you need him."
The Knicks are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, just a half-game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers. They trail the Hawks (37-25) by five games.
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.