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Knicks Notes: Smith, Chandler, Backcourt

Struggling to make any strides in a muddled playoff picture, the Knicks kick off a full slate of NBA action on Sunday against a 76ers team currently allowing the fewest amount of points per game. The Knicks presently occupy the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference with a middling Bucks squad two games back. Making noise in the news for a multitude of reasons, let's head to the Garden to see what's going on with the Knicks.

  • With J.R. Smith demonstrating inconsistency as a starter since assuming Landry Fields' former role, Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni has reinstated Fields into the starting lineup effective immediately thanks to his improved play as a reserve, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Smith, signed just prior to the All-Star break after a stint in China, has averaged 8.9 PPG in his nine games with the Knicks. The former first-round pick out of New Jersey has been making headlines for his risque actions off the court leading to a hefty fine by the league.
  • By many accounts the Knicks made one of the best moves of the abbreviated off-season by luring Tyson Chandler away from the Mavericks with a lucrative contract. According to Al Iannazzone of Newsday, Chandler believes the Knicks' roster has enough talent to close out games. "I feel like we may be the deepest team in the league. We should be able to come at teams in waves. It's a matter of putting that together." A newly-beardless Chandler, 29, makes his return to the starting lineup Sunday against the Sixers after missing two games with hamstring issues.
  • Rather than focusing on fixing the struggling Knicks via trade, D'Antoni wants to explore providing the tandem of Jeremy Lin and Baron Davis more minutes together on the court to see how such a pairing may improve the squad's overall performance, writes Mark Hale of the New York Post.

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