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Coast To Coast

December 17, 2006|Mark Heisler

Isiah's Knicks are a little

too ready to rumble

So much for the good old days when the biggest problem was the basketball.

Saturday night's brawl in Madison Square Garden was too reminiscent of the 2004 Auburn Hills riot for comfort. This involved only Knicks and Nuggets players, but Commissioner David Stern may hit the $10-million mark in fines and suspensions anyway.

If it takes two to rumble, it's not surprising one was the Knicks. Coach Isiah Thomas, a Detroit Bad Boy at heart, is under pressure. His players set it off with rookie Mardy Collins head-locking J.R. Smith, and Nate Robinson, whose 5-7 stature belies a giant ego, taking a swipe at Smith.

Until now the Knicks only embarrassed themselves. They're now officially the NBA's problem.

Steve Nash,

by the numbers

Noting that "Mark Cuban and I were wrong about Steve Nash," ESPN stat maven John Hollinger concedes Nash didn't turn out to be too pricey when he left Dallas for Phoenix in 2004.

The 32-year-old Nash is at 24.75 in Hollinger's Performance Efficiency Rating, which is prominently featured on ESPN's site, "easily the highest of his career."

Yet to be explained is last spring's description of Nash -- then about to win his second MVP in a row -- as "great ... but overrated." Nash was then No. 19 in the PER. He's still just No. 11, behind Zach Randolph (4), Carlos Boozer (5) and Gilbert Arenas (10). This suggests the PER needs more work than Nash, who's surpassing both MVP seasons, averaging 20 points, shooting 53%, 49% on threes and 92% on free throws, is No. 1 in the NBA in assists and No. 7 in assist/turnover ratio.

His last five teams have led the league in scoring. Three of the last four made the West finals.

That's pretty efficient. Unless he can grow as big as Shaquille O'Neal and play center, too, I'd say he's maxed the course.

Start spreading

the fertilizer

In happier times, even if they didn't know it, Knicks corporate boss James Dolan met with beat writers, noting: "It wouldn't surprise me if you all predicted exactly where we're at right now." ... That's because they all thought the Knicks would be awful. ... With New Jersey's Lawrence Frank dangling, there may not be a single Atlantic Division coach back next season. Of course, someone has to win it (don't they?). ... Red Hot Chili Peppers bass player Flea, who writes a diary for the Lakers' site, predicted Charlotte's Adam Morrison would "come bursting out of his slump like a wild sage brush jack rabbit with folded ears exploding out of captain beefheart's brain." Said Morrison, who's edgy, himself: "I think everybody around here thinks I should make every ... shot." Morrison, who had shot for four 34 over four games, then came out like a wild sagebrush jackrabbit etc., scoring 38 in two games, shooting 14 for 26. Reader Del Harris of Dallas notes an error in my Cuban story: The team's 757 has no weight room or HDTVs. As for the rest about their wacky world, I'm standing by that. Cuban, continuing his sardonic support of Stern: "I'm glad they did the in-depth analysis and research before they switched to the new ball. And I'm glad they did the in-depth research and analysis to switch back to the old ball."

Famous last words

Dallas Coach Avery Johnson after losing to Utah in Jerry Sloan's 1,000th win: "You would hope you could watch this on TV and they could get it on somebody else. But it was us."

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-- Mark Heisler

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