Knicks (20-53, 7-29 road, 14th East) @ Bucks (24-48, 18-18 home, 13th East)
Bucks Stats: Offense 21st (102.2 pts /100 poss), Defense 30th (109.4), Pace 18th (93.4), Rebounding 15th (.505 rr)
Knicks Stats: Offense 25th (100.8), Defense 29th (109.2), Pace 17th (93.5), Rebounding 19th (.497 rr)
Bucks Injuries: Andrew Bogut is expected to play with a mask after breaking his nose a week ago in Atlanta. Jake Voskuhl is questionable with a sprained ankle.
Knicks Injuries: Stephon Marbury is out for the season with a left ankle injury, while Eddy Curry is also out. Zach Randolph is questionable with the flu. Jerome James has a knee injury, but let's not bother acting like the Knicks would want him to play anyway.
- The Bucks and Knicks are battling on a number of fronts these days, the least important of which (in the long term at least) is what's happening on the court. The Knicks are currently leading the chase for Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh, though the Bucks are reportedly trying to make a run at Walsh as well. Milwaukee's clearly the longshot at the moment, so it's probably more important to note that the Bucks had Suns VP of Basketball Operations David Grffin in town yesterday. The two teams are also, uh, battling for lottery position at the moment, with the Knicks currently in the fifth spot and the Bucks seventh.
- The Knicks have lost two in a row, their most recent being a 114-109 decision in Atlanta on Saturday. Jamal Crawford, one of the rare bright spots for the Knicks all season, poured in 39 points while David Lee had 17/10. With Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph out, the Knicks played a big backcourt and a small center (the 6'8" Lee). If Randolph is healthy again, expect him to slot in at center with rookie Wilson Chandler likely moving to the bench.
- The Bucks are coming off a 114-111 loss in Chicago, where they trailed by 21 early in the fourth before a furious comeback got the Bucks within striking distance. Michael Redd and Charlie Villanueva combined for 59 points, but rookie Ramon Sessions was the spark, playing the final 15 minutes in Mo Williams' stead and scoring four points and dishing out five assists with no turnovers. Just as importantly, he actually played a modicum of defense, which Larry Krystkowiak can appreciate:
"In the fourth quarter we put in a group of guys who wanted to compete," Krystkowiak said. "They weren't thinking a whole lot. I thought Ramon Sessions gave us a nice lift at the point guard. He does a really good job of keeping his man in front of us.
"In the first half, the point of attack just killed us. We couldn't keep people out of the lane, and we were getting beat so quickly it was virtually impossible for our help to even get there. In the second half, as it usually goes, you start scoring some points and making it a little bit closer, and we got energized. We almost made enough plays."
- Andrew Bogut (broken nose) has missed the last two losses, but is expected back in the starting lineup tonight. In calendar 2008, Bogut is averaging 15.6 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.7 bpg and 3.0 apg in 38 games. With Eddy Curry out, Bogut will likely require a double team given his size advantage on David Lee. Perhaps complicating things will be a protective mask, which Bogut's clearly thrilled about wearing:
"It's annoying," he said. "It's itchy and sweaty and (it affects) the peripheral vision. I got used to it (as a rookie) because I wore it for about 30 or 40 games but it's going to be tough to get used to it for just 10 games. But if I don't want to get my nose broken again I have to wear it. After a while, once you get into the flow of the game, you forget about it."
- As Tom Enlund reports, Michael Redd is no longer trying to deny it: this season's been a failure.
Redd, who is nearly halfway through the six-year, $91 million contract he signed in the summer of 2005, said it was hard to find anything truly positive in this season.
"Nothing, nothing," the Bucks shooting guard said. "The fact is that one day, when we're winning and contending for a championship, we'll appreciate these days. Other than that, character has been built, perseverance has been built up. I've grown in those areas, having patience with everything.
"I've said it often, I'm committed to this organization, to this city, to this team. I signed a six-year deal. I'm looking forward to things changing around next year."
- Check out our friends at Posting and Toasting, the incomparable Knickerblogger, and Stop Mike Lupica for more on the Knicks.