For an NBA head coach, Terry Porter might just have died and gone to point guard heaven.
The Portland Trailblazers’ all-time assist leader was named head coach of the Phoenix Suns on June 9, inheriting two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash.
“I’m not going to have to do much with him,” Porter said at the Cox Pavilion, while watching the Knicks-Cavs game wind down. “He’s one of the best point guards in the league, made every team better where he’s gone. I’m not going to try to reinvent Steve Nash; he’s been invented already.”
With Mike D’Antoni taking his up-tempo, run-and-gun style to the Knicks, Porter said his biggest tasks will be on the defensive end.
“I’m going to take the stuff I know, teach what I know — obviously, some of the stuff I did in Milwaukee, they do here — but just because you change coaches, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get over the hump. You have to have all the players commit to what the task at hand is.”
The NBA Summer League isn’t exactly about wins and losses, but someone forgot to tell the Knicks and the Cavaliers.
The end of New York’s 97-94 win was noticeably crisper than the rest of the game, as an 89-89 tie with 1 minute, 22 seconds left had the players focused.
Two of the Knicks’ last four first-round picks, 2006 first-rounder Mardy Collins and 2007’s Wilson Chandler, came up big in the clutch. Collins had four free throws down the stretch and Chandler hit two more to ice the win.
Chandler led New York with 26 points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes, while Anthony Roberson added 22 points. No. 19 draft pick J.J. Hickson had 26 points and a game-high nine boards for Cleveland in almost 30 minutes.
COACH, SMILE A LITTLE?
A tale of two personalities: When New York’s Danilo Gallinari slammed home a put-back dunk late in the third quarter, D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh had vastly different reactions.
Seated two rows in front of D’Antoni, Walsh clapped and laughed in jubilation at the offensive explosion. D’Antoni, meanwhile, didn’t even smile.
He did weigh in on the rookie, though.
“First half, he struggled, just trying to get used to everything,” D’Antoni said immediately after the game ended. “But he really looked good in the second half. Really, he just needs experience and strength. That’s it, he has everything else.
“He’s gonna be a good one.”
Was that Cuba Gooding Jr. on the court, or New York’s Brandon Hunter?
The Knicks 6-foot, 7-inch, 266-pound forward bears a striking resemblance to the Jerry Maguire star. Seriously, they could be twins.