Knicks are facing a Danilo dilemma

BOSTON -- Something is wrong with Danilo Gallinari. Very, very wrong.

One thing for sure, problem-wise, is his right wrist. It is not just sore; he actually sprained it 10 days ago when he fell on it during a preseason game.

And then there is his psyche. The best prognosis: At the very least, it is bruised.

Wearing a hooded sweatshirt atop his noggin and an elastic bandage around a bag of ice on his right wrist, Gallinari bolted from the New York Knicks' locker room less than 15 minutes after a 105-101 loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday night, making a beeline for the team bus before deciding to stop and answer a few questions.

His answers, however, were not all that revealing.

"The wrist is fine. It's fine," Gallinari said after going 0-for-6 from the field and getting benched for the final 21 minutes. "If I say it's fine, it's fine. Everything else is fine. I don't see not fine things. If we look at the game, we played a great game. To play this game against the best team in the East, you have to stay positive and try to take all the positive things that we did in the game."

The positives were indeed there, beginning with a no-quit attitude that allowed the Knicks to turn what looked like a hopeless situation, trailing by 11 with 2:14 left, into a two-point deficit with 17 seconds to play before Paul Pierce (25 points, 14 rebounds) iced the Celtics' victory with a pair of free throws.

Amare Stoudemire (27 points, eight rebounds, two blocks) was every bit as aggressive and emotional as counterpart Kevin Garnett (24 points, 10 rebounds), being such a go-to guy that he actually hit a 3-pointer -- his second of the game -- to cut that deficit down to two in the final seconds.

"Tonight I wanted to be a little bit more of a facilitator and get my teammates involved, so I started off that way and wasn't too aggressive toward scoring until the fourth quarter," Stoudemire said. "It was very encouraging, and now we go to the next one."

Wilson Chandler was again a sparkplug off the bench with 19 points, six boards and four blocks, Landry Fields made it impossible for his coach to remove him by coming up with all manner of hustle plays and clutch plays in 34 minutes of burn, and Toney Douglas contributed 12 points and three 3-pointers in a reserve role to help the Knicks to a 41-24 edge in bench scoring.

But the Knicks are not going to be a contending team over the long haul if they do not start getting some production from Gallinari, who had a poor preseason even before spraining his wrist and now has played a pair of stinkers to open the regular season.

"The wrist is bothering him a little bit. He needs to rest and recuperate, make sure he heals, take care of his body," Stoudemire said. "He's very important to the team. He can help us a lot. We need Gallo, and he's going to be OK."

Aside from the quick exit by Gallinari, the Knicks' locker room was not a downcast place after the loss. They trailed for most of the game, but they never allowed the Celtics to pull too far ahead on a night when the individual stats piled up, not only for Pierce and Garnett, but especially for Rajon Rondo (10 points, 10 rebounds and 24 assists, four shy of Bob Cousy's team record and six shy of Scott Skiles' NBA record.)

The Knicks allowed too many open looks, especially to Pierce, but they got key steals when they needed them, key buckets when they were desperate for them, and -- biggest of all -- they simply refused to quit.

"Willpower," Stoudemire said.

"Last year we probably would have laid down at the end of the game, and it would have been a bigger victory for those guys," said Chandler, who faulted himself for taking too many 3-pointers (he was 1-for-7 from downtown, 8-for-13 otherwise).

The Knicks shot 11-for-23 in the fourth quarter and matched the Celtics with 13 rebounds, but they still had a 54-38 deficit overall on the boards, missed nine free throws and allowed 16 second-chance points.

"We should come out of this game with our heads up because it was a great game for us, especially playing the best team in the East. We had a chance to win it," Gallinari said.

But they might have had a better chance to win it if their best shooter had been able to hit a single shot, which he couldn't. Which was why Gallinari spent a majority of the second half watching instead of playing.

"We were playing really good with the guys that were on the court, so I was not worried about that," he said.

But good players should want to play, not watch.

So if Gallinari was being entirely truthful in that last statement, there's an even bigger problem upstairs. As it is, there's obviously something amiss with him that needs to be fixed if the Knicks are going to exceed expectations over the long haul and be better than the .500 team they are as they enter their home opener Saturday night against Portland.

Chris Sheridan is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.

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