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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Inflexibility Lands Knicks in Trouble

NEW YORK -- New York Knicks Coach Pat Riley said it himself less than three weeks ago: "I hate change. I believe in continuity, staying the same unless you're losing so much that that particular statistic forces you to change. You fight through it, you get better, through staying together."

And now you know why he hates change so much. Fixing something that is broken midway through is not his strong point. He prepares, he motivates, he instills discipline, he imposes his will.

But unless he has absolutely no other alternative, he will not adjust. And as much as anything else, that may have caused the problems the Knicks are having now.

Yes, the Knicks were missing several players critical to their chances of reaching the National Basketball Association finals.

Yes, most of them (except, of course, Doc Rivers) would be back eventually, and it was imperative for the Knicks to stay afloat as they healed.

And yes, the Knicks are still 27-11 as they begin their West Coast trip Thursday night in Anaheim, California, against the Los Angeles Clippers.

But along the way, no fewer than four players -- the departed Tony Campbell, Greg Anthony, and the two anonymous players quoted Tuesday complaining about shot distribution -- popped off.

The Knicks' flaws were exposed. They were predictable, and as proud as Riley is of that fact, the opponents obviously were just as happy. (Ask Shaquille O'Neal, who was not too inexperienced or preoccupied with his rap career to sniff out exactly what Patrick Ewing and the Knicks were going to do in the final seconds in Orlando Friday night.)

As a result, not only do the Knicks no longer have the best record in the East, no one seriously believes they are the best team in the East. The popular opinion leans toward, of all teams, the Chicago Bulls.

Riley put the responsibility on the players to hold themselves together during this unexpected stretch of injuries.

But the ultimate responsibility is his. The respect he earned from the "six championship rings" he spoke of Tuesday night did not seem so obvious when players started complaining about roles.


The biggest fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves (13-24 through Friday) may be horror novelist Stephen King.

After one of the Wolves' rare victories this season, King sent a dozen roses to each of the team's 14 players and coaches.

Each player received a personalized congratulatory note.


Quote of the Week

"I like his game and his work ethic. Even when I was lighting him up, he didn't say a word. I like that." -- Boston Celtics center Robert Parish, after out-rebounding Warriors rookie Chris Webber.