Kenyon Martin is giving the Knicks productive minutes
JAIME C. HARRIS Special to the AmNews | 6/6/2013, 3:39 p.m.
As the calendar continues to move rapidly toward the start of the NBA playoffs, the Knicks, at least momentarily, have weathered a potentially devastating storm. In fact, they have prospered.
The Knicks were riding a five-game winning streak heading into last night's (Thursday) matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies at the Garden, this after having lost five of their previous six games. Those defeats were also accompanied by injuries to starting center Tyson Chandler, forward Kurt Thomas and the aching right knee of franchise player Carmelo Anthony.
It wouldn't have been surprising if the Knicks' downward spiral continued, as head coach Mike Woodson was compelled to heavily rely on role players. However, Chris Copeland, Pablo Prigioni, Jason Kidd and, above all, Kenyon Martin refused to allow the Knicks to fold, providing sizeable contributions when most needed.
"I'm just trying to make the most of these minutes as a starter," said Martin on Tuesday after facing the Boston Celtics. In the three games prior to playing the Grizzlies, Martin averaged 15.3 points and 7.6 rebounds.
Anthony's return a little over a week ago against the Orlando Magic after missing three straight games significantly bolstered the confidence and production of the team. So there the Knicks were in Boston minus Chandler, Stoudemire and Thomas, three vital bigs, beating the Celtics 100-85, their second win in Beantown this season, to move to 43-26, placing them in a tie with the Indiana Pacers for the much-desired second overall seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics were depleted too, missing Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa, all done for the season with injuries, as well as Kevin Garnett, who is expected to be out at least a week with an ankle injury.
It was still a character victory as J.R. Smith's good twin was on display, dropping 32 points while suppressing the erratic twin. Additionally, Anthony bucketed 29 and looked strong on his drained right knee.
"We gotta take care of [our] home court and we have to figure out how to win on the road," Smith said afterward.
While the Knicks' 19-16 record away from the Garden is solid, they need to win three of their remaining six road games and at least four of the last six home games to have a realistic chance to secure the second seed.