The story for the New York Knicks through two games under new coach Mike D'Antoni is more about who has yet to take the court, than about who is actually playing.
D'Antoni has shown he is not afraid to bench the Knicks' high-priced players as he gets ready to coach his third game for New York on Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Hired to turn around a franchise that has suffered through seven straight losing seasons, D'Antoni has yet to give point guard Stephon Marbury and center Eddy Curry any minutes thus far. Marbury, who will earn close to $22 million in the final year of his contract, was placed on the inactive list for Friday's 116-87 loss at Philadelphia.
"This is the direction we're going and there will be some nights like this," D'Antoni said of Marbury. "If I was playing everything for tonight, you'd do things differently. But we're trying to build a base for going forward."
With Marbury and Curry sitting, the Knicks (1-1) have given players such as Wilson Chandler and Mardy Collins extended playing time. Those two combined for 18 points on Friday, but most of that was after the game was decided as New York shot 32.7 percent (32-of-98) from the field.
"I am not happy about any of this and neither are the players, but you have to be realistic and knowing this year is going to be a lot of work and its our goal to play hard every night and learn from it," D'Antoni said. "It's not going to be a Cinderella story, we are going to have to work and there are going to be nights like this, but we will bounce back and Sunday at the Garden we will be ready."
The Knicks won their first game at home, 120-115 over Miami on Wednesday. They placed six players in double figures, including a 17-point effort by Chandler off the bench.
New York has won five of seven meetings against Milwaukee over the last two seasons, including all three at Madison Square Garden.
The Bucks (1-2) are looking to bounce back from a 91-87 loss in their home opener on Saturday against Toronto. Michael Redd scored 19 as the Bucks rallied from a 10-point deficit entering the fourth quarter to take the lead, only to fall down the stretch.
Milwaukee played without point guard Luke Ridnour, who will also miss this game due to back problems. Ramon Sessions, who was inactive in the Bucks' first two games, started in Ridnour's place on Saturday and had 12 points and nine assists.
While first-round pick Joe Alexander has yet to see action, second-round pick Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has played in all three games for Milwaukee. Mbah a Moute had nine points on Saturday and also defended Raptors star Chris Bosh.
"We put him on Bosh and he was able to do some things," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "He earned himself further looks, that's for sure."
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