Friday , Mar , 16 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Only time will tell for Isiah

(Sports Network) – Earlier this week Madison Square Garden chairman James
Dolan announced that the New York Knicks rewarded head coach Isiah Thomas with
a multiyear contract extension.


Only time will tell for Isiah

Apparently Dolan is convinced Thomas has the team on the right path toward the
ultimate goal of reaching the playoffs, and possibly competing for the Larry
O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy. Dolan noted months ago that if Thomas doesn’t
produce wins on a regular basis and develop some of the younger players, he
would be booted out of the Big Apple.

Thomas has done an admirable job and has his squad in the hunt for the
postseason. The Knicks are currently in a four-way tie with Indiana, New
Jersey and Orlando for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. But Thomas
and Co. have dropped two of the last three games, including Wednesday’s 104-94
loss to Toronto in which the Knicks blew a 10-point lead in the second half.

As for Thomas’ extension, he can thank his lucky stars the Eastern Conference
is very weak. The final two spots in the conference playoff race is occupied
by two teams which sport losing records. The Knicks, though, have won six
more games than the 23-59 mark Larry Brown posted last season, and will
most likely reach the postseason with .500 record or worse.

New York is back at home now for four straight games and owns a 17-14 record
at Madison Square Garden this season. It will welcome New Orleans/Oklahoma
City, Toronto, Dallas and Portland to the Big Apple. After starting the
2006-07 season with a 1-7 home mark, the Knicks have ripped off wins in 13 of
their last 17 home games, including a seven-game winning streak. The streak
was halted last Tuesday versus Seattle.

In injury news for the Knickerbockers, forward David Lee has missed the last
eight games because of a leg injury and is averaging 11.2 points and 10.7
rebounds this season. Lee is Thomas’ main man off the bench but is expected to
miss possibly another month, according to Dr. David Porter, who does medical
consulting for the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts. Porter noted Lee is
hampered with a stress reaction.

On a brighter note for New York, center Eddy Curry is averaging 15.6 points
and 6.8 rebounds over his last five games. Curry leads the Knicks in scoring
this season with a 19.2 ppg clip, good enough for sixth among all NBA centers.
Curry owns 14 double-doubles this season after recording 10 in 2005-06.

Steve Francis is averaging 17.2 ppg over his last five contests. In Saturday’s
90-89 win over the Washington Wizards, Francis buried the game-winning three
as time expired to lift New York. He ended with 26 points that day.

NYK