WHAT IT MEANS: If you want to break it down into a sentence, it's this: David Lee is a slightly better free throw shooter in the clutch than Amar'e Stoudemire. The ex-Knick made one of two from the line with 28.1 seconds left to give Golden State a four-point lead, just 21 seconds after Stoudemire -- who had been 14-for-14 from the line up to that point -- missed a pair that would have cut the Warriors' lead to one. Lee had a team-high 28 points and 10 rebounds in his return to the arena where he played his first five NBA seasons, and Stoudemire scored 33 as the Knicks lost their third in a row.
TURNING POINT: The boos came out midway through the third quarter as Golden State was reeling off a 19-6 run to turn a 60-56 halftime lead into a 79-62 advantage. The lead eventually reached 19 before the Knicks surged and eventually went ahead late in the fourth. But trailing 114-113, they could not convert on three straight shots -- two of which came after the Knicks grabbed offensive rebounds. Dorrell Wright then put back his own miss, and Stoudemire missed his pair from the line. A 3-pointer by Stoudemire with 13.5 seconds left made it 118-117, but Monta Ellis made two free throws, Wilson Chandler missed a 3, and Lee grabbed the game-sealing rebound with 1.5 seconds left.
BIG CHANGE: Mike D'Antoni changed his starting lineup for the first time in the regular season, benching Timofey Mozgov and making Chandler his starting power forward. “I might have messed up a little bit by putting (Mozgov) out there a little too quick. I just thought that was better for the team, and it might be, and we might come back to it. But right now for him, coming in off the bench is better for him, and the biggest thing is opening the floor for Amar’e," D'Antoni said. With Toney Douglas struggling and without Chandler providing the boost he had been giving the second unit, the Knicks' reserves were outscored 22-11.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Golden State coach Keith Smart benched Lee for a significant portion of the fourth quarter, even going with Vladimir Radmanovic as the sub for center Andris Biedrins with about six minutes left. That happened when the Knicks were slowly cutting into Golden State's lead, eventually going ahead for the first time with 2:42 remaining.
MOZGOV MOMENT: There weren't many of them, as D'Antoni changed his starting lineup and brought the 7-foot Russian off the bench for a mere 1:25 of playing time in the second quarter and a 34-second stretch early in the fourth. During that time, Mozgov managed to get dunked on by Lee, who let out a yell afterward, and commit two personal fouls. Mozgov did, however, make two free throws to account for all of the Knicks' bench scoring in the first half.
WHAT'S NEXT: A gimme, perhaps? The Knicks travel to Minneapolis to face the Timberwolves, who entered Wednesday night tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for the NBA's worst record (1-7). Former Knicks center Darko Milicic, who was traded to the Wolves last season for Brian Cardinal (who was subsequently waived by the Knicks), is shooting only 28 percent from the field.