By Jerald LeVon Hoover
Updated: November 13, 2004

NEW YORK – After a disastrous 0-2 start that had Knicks fans booing profusely during the teams opening day fiasco, (losing by 34 points to the mediocre Boston Celtics) the Knicks have gotten themselves to the .500 mark.

That’s not altogether the greatest of records considering the weakened Eastern Conference but, it certainly beats an 0-4 start which would have most certainly garnered even more changes than that’s already taken place in Knick-land this past week.

Dick Helm, the longtime assistant and right hand man of Knicks coach, Lenny Wilkens, was supposedly relieved of his duties on the Knicks bench. This removal led to widespread speculation that team President and GM Isiah Thomas was getting ready to make a head coaching change.

And of course Isiah (who any feel still has the jones to coach) was thought to be the one that would have been roaming the sidelines and barking out instructions. That scenario angered Isiah so much that he hastily called a press conference before the Knicks played the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday to refute any and all ideas of him becoming the next or next after next New York Knicks head coach.

Maybe still don’t believe him but, only time will tell.

On the court the Knicks did display a better way of going about their task at hand. Starting small forward, Tim Thomas rebounded from the prior three games in which he was pretty dreadful to score and defend with a lot more gusto. But, in the 4th quarter and in a still pretty close game, it was the 19-year-old rookie sensation, Trevor Ariza that played and not Tim. The Knicks won, 96-88.

Center Nazr Mohommad who was just dreadful in the first two games as well rebounded (pardon the pun) against Philadelphia so much so that he was awarded the Player of the Game. He played pretty well also against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Knicks won that game, 110-96.

The stellar play of reserve power forward and second year man, Michael Sweetney has relegated center Vin Baker to the bench. Sweetney who is showing a great deal of confidence in his post up ability continues to still rebound the basketball like a mad man. He credits the summer tutelage of assistant coach, Mark Aguirre for making him a better player.

Reserve swingman and former All-pro Penny Hardaway who was hobbled by a minor hamstring pull the first two games of the season continues to be a steady hand and great locker-room sage.

Stephon Marbury who has taken newcomer Jamal Crawford under his wing as a little brother continues to lead the team giving the Knicks whatever it needs to get over the hump. His continued growth and maturity is a byproduct of the positive influence that Isiah is having on him.

The Knicks needed these past two wins as they now embark on a tremendously difficult four-game swing that includes stops in Indiana, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. If the Knicks are fortunate they will come back just the way the left; at .500.

GAME NOTES: Philadelphia 76ers. The coaches take on Ariza, “he’s a young player that has a great feel for the game. He plays with a lot of energy. He has great quickness and he reads situations well.” When was the last time a coach was able to say that about a rookie that wasn’t picked until the 43rd selection of the previous draft? Kurt Thomas continues to rebound well as he led the team with eleven. Crawford was the team’s leading scorer with 22 points on 8 for 19 shooting.

GAME NOTES: Los Angeles Clippers. The Knicks shot a blistering 50% from the field and 55% from three-point land. They also shot 90% from the charity stripe. Marbury nearly had a triple double as he was 3 rebounds shy. But he led the team in scoring with 21 points and 10 assists. Last year he destroyed the Clippers in the four games (which included two while he was with the Phoenix Suns) he played against them averaging a Jordanesque 35 points.