Knicks (10-12) at Kings (6-17)
Scoring: Kings 16th (98), Knicks third (104.6).
Shooting: Kings tied for eighth (46.2 percent), Knicks tied for 22nd (43.9).
Scoring defense: Kings 28th (105.7), Knicks 29th (107.5).
Shooting defense: Kings 28th (47.9 percent), Knicks 30th (48.4).
Turnovers: Kings 23rd (15.9), Knicks 20th (15.5).
The links: Knicks coverage in the New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday and Bergen County Record.
The almanac: On this date in 1983, the Pistons beat the Nuggets 186-184 in triple overtime in a game that set league records for most points in a game by one team and combined, most field goals by one team (Detroit, 74) and combined (142), and most assists combined (93). On this date in 1991, Robert Parish of the Celtics became the fifth player to appear in 1,200 games, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elvin Hayes, John Havlicek and Paul Silas. On this date in 2000, John Stockton of the Jazz recorded his 14,000th career assist.
Either way, the Knicks are the perfect comparison opponent at the perfect time.
The Kings are back to showing signs of life, with a very impressive performance Tuesday against the Lakers followed by good energy most of the way Friday in the rematch before losing to a much better team. New York, though greatly improved from the comedy routine of 2007-08 and more rested than Sacramento on the second night of a back-to-back, is on the same competitive level. It's a fair barometer game for the Kings.
It's also an example of rebuilding with a purpose. In contrast to the organizations that leak along.
The path is different, of course. The Knicks are pushing all in for the bonanza free-agent class of 2010 starring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, making every decision to clear cap space with that summer in mind. The Kings are making their biggest strikes via the draft, heading to the future with Kevin Martin, Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson and Francisco Garcia.
Look how forcefully Donnie Walsh untangled his mess, though.
The Knicks were in far worse shape than the Kings at the end of last season, a swamp of bad players and worse contracts thanks to Isiah Thomas. Walsh was hired away from the Pacers in an immediate image upgrade for the front office -- Thomas' new responsibilities are to stay out of sight and to try not to break anything -- and then Donnie went to work on the tangible.
He hired Mike D'Antoni. Big success. He drafted Danilo Gallinari in the first round. Uncertain level of success -- it's very early for any rookie, but a back injury has limited Gallinari to two games.
Walsh has hit hardest in trades, maneuvering to set up the Knicks for a shot at something special. Jamal Crawford to the Warriors for Al Harrington. Zach Randolph to the Clippers for Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley on the same day. Even when the obligatory physical flagged Mobley for a heart problem, a finding that would force Mobley to retire, Walsh still allowed the deal to go through. He may have liked the players, but he loved the situation more: cap space.
That's the New York blueprint. In Sacramento, it's a commitment to develop the young players and a commitment to play the veterans to win in the moment and a commitment to tell fans they'll find a way out of this mess and a commitment to make the playoffs with a roster that can't defend or handle the ball and did nothing to address that same problem a season ago. That would be a very different approach.