As hard as it is to glean anything from preseason games, it’s even harder when we sit most of our starters, like in last night’s 118-91 pummeling by the Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers. Coach Mike D’Antoni decided to give Amar’e Stoudemire, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari the night off. Throw in the fact that Kelenna Azubuike is still recovering from injury, and it’s quite possible that we had four of our five eventual starters sitting. How come those particular guys didn’t play? My guess is because they’re the three guys who’ve had tons of experience playing in D’Antoni’s system so Coach wanted to give the other players more “real” game time to run it.
The only starter who did play was Raymond Felton who had another iffy night. He was more aggressive with his scoring, getting to the free throw eight times and ended up leading the team in points with 16. However, he only shot 40% from the field and got just one assist. Toney Douglas led the team in minutes with 37 and continued his string of good games that keeps vaulting him higher up the depth chart. His shot wasn’t so great, but he managed a very impressive 9 assists and 6 rebounds.
Two other players had decent nights. First, in an extremely good sign, was Timofey Mozgov, who managed to avoid foul trouble. As a result he logged the second most minutes with 36. He still had four fouls, but that’s a huge improvement over the past. The second solid showing came from Landry Fields, who also seems to be forcing his way into the rotation. He played 26 minutes, shot 50% from both the field and the three-point line, giving him 15 points. I’m thinking he’s probably moved ahead of Roger Mason, Jr. As a result, I’m now a bit worried that Mason might end up unproudly displaying the Larry Hughes’ Veteran-Disgruntled-By-His-Lack-Of-Minutes award.
Speaking of disappointing players, once again that role was played to perfection by Anthony Randolph. With all our other studs out, here was his chance to shine. Instead he played only 27 minutes and shot 33%. The 6’11” phenom also only netted 3 rebounds. Which could partly help explain why we were outboarded 38-54 by the Sixers.
Friday is our final preseason game. We play the Raptors in Toronto. Conveniently enough, for our first game of the season on Wednesday, we play the Raptors in Toronto. Will the two teams try to hold some stuff back during the preseason game? Regardless, since Toronto doesn’t have a real post-player, it’s possible that D’Antoni could start small using Felton, Douglas, Chandler, Gallo and Amar’e, with perhaps all of them playing at least 35 minutes each.