Tuesday , Feb , 13 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

The return of Francis means nothing in NY

(Sports Network) – The only aspect the return of Steve Francis brings to the
New York Knicks is just more lineup changes for head coach Isiah Thomas.

Francis missed 18 games with a knee injury before returning to the hardwood in
Saturday’s 104-102 overtime setback to the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions
Arena. Francis, who last played on December 29 in a loss to Phoenix, came
off the bench to record 13 points, seven rebounds and two assists in 20:43 of
action in Salt Lake City.

Once a dominating player in the NBA, Francis doesn’t have many fans in the Big
Apple, and will have to share playing time the rest of the season. He began
the 2006-07 campaign as a starter for Thomas, who has shifted opening lineups
on a regular basis.

The Knicks are 8-17 when Francis plays this season, so fans better not get too
excited when they see the player formerly known as “The Franchise” lace up
the sneakers.

Knicks fans, though, should be excited about guard Nate Robinson going for his
second straight Slam Dunk title in Saturday’s All-Star Game festivities in Las
Vegas. Robinson, the first Knick to be crowned dunk champ since Kenny Walker
in 1989, is trying to become the first back-to-back dunk titlist since Golden
State’s Jason Richardson turned the trick in 2002 and 2003.

The 5-9 Robinson has tremendous leaping ability and will compete with Boston’s
Gerald Green, Chicago’s Tyrus Thomas and Orlando’s Dwight Howard. Robinson is
averaging 8.3 points per game this season, and will soak up every second of
the limelight on Saturday night.

One New York player who should be on the East’s All-Star roster is center Eddy
Curry, who leads the team with 19.8 points per game. Curry, who is
averaging 23.8 points per game over the last five contests, owns 12
double-doubles this season and has buried 73 of his last 103 free throws.

Curry is third in scoring among all NBA centers and trails San Antonio’s Tim
Duncan and Houston’s Yao Ming. The 6-11, 285-pound big man has scored in
double figures in 43 games this season for NY, including 28 games with 20
or more points and three outings with 30-plus points.

The Knicks will resume their three-game road trip on Tuesday against the Los
Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center before closing out the trek at Golden
State on Wednesday.

New York lost the opener in overtime at Utah on Saturday.