From the suspension of J.R. Smith, to the loss of Tyson Chandler with a broken right leg, to a disappointing 1-3 start, the New York Knicks’ dramas have started early this season.
On Friday, Patrick Ewing’s debut as a head coach came against none other than the Knicks. Ewing, the associate head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats, was forced to replace Steve Clifford, who was hospitalized Thursday with chest pains and had two stents inserted into his arteries.
It was hardly a memorable debut. The Knicks, still smarting from a loss to Charlotte at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, got their revenge with a 101-91 victory at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Carmelo Anthony had 28 points and eight rebounds, and Andrea Bargnani, replacing Chandler at center, added 25 points, eight rebounds and five blocks to help the Knicks snap a three-game losing streak.
The Knicks will get Smith back in the lineup today against San Antonio at the Garden. He missed the first five games of the season while serving a suspension for violating the NBA’s drug policy.
How much did it mean to Ewing to coach his first game? “When I played, I was never nervous before the game, but as a coach, the butterflies are flowing,” he said Friday.
“It’s ironic that my first chance to be a head coach is against a team I played 15 years for. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m just going to try to not be as nervous and just go out there and try to have fun.”
It was not the debut Ewing wanted, but at least he finally had the opportunity.
Ewing, a longtime assistant coach with his fourth team, has longed to be a head coach. He was interviewed by the Bobcats in 2012 before the team hired Mike Dunlap and by the Detroit Pistons before that. Ewing was hired as associate head coach by Clifford, who is in his first year.
Clifford is the third professional head coach in the past week who has had a serious health problem.
The Denver Broncos’ John Fox became ill on a golf course in Charlotte and required heart surgery, and the Houston Texans’ Gary Kubiak collapsed at halftime of last Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts with what the team called a mini-stroke.
Golfing with Obama
President Barack Obama hit the greens Saturday with former basketball star Alonso Mourning at the private Florida golf club where Caddyshack was filmed.
Obama played through intermittent showers at the Grande Oaks Golf Club in Fort Lauderdale. It’s a private, 18-hole course where Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield and a rambunctious gopher got into all kinds of antics in the 1980 golf flick.
Around the league
The Phoenix Suns are without starting guard Goran Dragic, who is still dealing with a sprained left ankle. Dragic has missed the past three games. ... San Antonio Spurs formard Matt Bonner missed his second straight game with tightness in his left calf. ...The Detroit Pistons take their 19-game road losing streak against Western Conference opponents to Portland on Monday night for the first of a four-game trip.