Sunday, March 6, 2011
Chauncey Billups out vs. Hawks
By Chris Sheridan
ATLANTA -- Chauncey Billups sat out Sunday night when the New York Knicks beat the Atlanta Hawks 92-79 for a split of their season series.
Billups missed the Knicks' two previous games because of a deep left thigh bruise. He was replaced by Toney Douglas in the starting lineup.
Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni had hoped Billups could start. The decision was made before tipoff to keep Billups inactive.
The Knicks were also without reserve center Ronny Turiaf and reserve swingman Bill Walker. Both Turiaf and Walker are nursing sore left knees.
D'Antoni said he hopes Billups, Turiaf, and Walker will be able to play Monday night when Utah visits Madison Square Garden.
"This is the worst one that I've had. I've had a lot of thigh bruises before, being a guard, guarding pick-and-rolls, chasing guys off screens," Billups said. "You kind of get in that position, but this is the toughest one I've had."
Billups was able to jog, but not run, as the Knicks held a two-hour practice Saturday before flying to Atlanta. The Knicks focused on defensive tactics after allowing Cleveland to shoot 50 percent Friday night in a 119-115 loss to the Cavs that dropped New York's record to 3-3 since acquiring Billups and Carmelo Anthony in a trade with the Denver Nuggets.
This was the Knicks' first trip back to Atlanta since Shawne Williams and Marvin Williams exchanged punches in Atlanta's 111-102 victory on Jan. 28. There is no love lost between the teams -- as evidenced by the trash talk exchanged by Amare Stoudemire and Al Horford the last time these teams met in New York on Feb. 16.
Since then, the Hawks have upgraded at point guard, trading Mike Bibby to Washington for Kirk Hinrich, who entered Sunday averaging 10.0 points while going 8-of-14 (57 percent) from 3-point range in four games with Atlanta.
"They play much faster," D'Antoni said of the Hawks since the trade. "[Hinrich is] one of the better players in the league, and I think he's revitalized a little bit. I think he'll add a lot to them."
Meanhile, forward Josh Smith returned for the Hawks. He was out the last two games with a sprained right knee. Hawks coach Larry Drew said the team decided Smith would start after practice Saturday.
Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN.com and ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.