Knicks looking to end skid at Miami
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MIAMI -- When the New York Knicks visit the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, the injury list may be more impressive than the players actually on the court.
For the Knicks (1-3), their franchise player, 7-3 power forward Kristaps Porzingis, is out until at least Christmas following knee surgery.
In addition, rookie lottery pick Kevin Knox, a 6-9 small forward, will miss at least two weeks due to a left-ankle injury, and shooting guard Courtney Lee, who started 69 games last season and averaged 12 points, has yet to play this season due to a neck issue.
Knox scored 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-4 on 3-pointers, in his second NBA game last Friday at the Brooklyn Nets. The next night, he got hurt against the Boston Celtics.
"I hope it's just for a short amount of time," Knicks coach David Fizdale said of Knox's injury. "I want to get him right back into that promising mode. But I don't think it's a major setback.
"We don't want to see him sit out. But as a 19-year-old, his development is about three to five years (away)."
In other words, the Knicks, who have lost three straight games and have not made the playoffs since 2013, are preaching patience.
But the Heat (1-2), which made the playoffs last season before bowing out in the first round, is in a win-now mode.
At least two Las Vegas sports books set the Heat win-total line for this season at 43.5, good for seventh place in the Eastern Conference and a date to the playoff if that turned out to be accurate.
The problem with the Heat so far is that they cannot seem to stay healthy. Forwards James Johnson (abdomen) and Justise Winslow (hamstring) and shooting guards Dion Waiters (ankle) and Wayne Ellington (ankle) are all listed as out for Wednesday's game. In addition, center Hassan Whiteside (hip) and forward Derrick Jones (foot) are listed as questionable.
So far this season, the Heat has been led by point guard Goran Dragic and wings Rodney McGruder and Josh Richardson.
Dragic, an 11th-year pro out of Slovenia, leads the Heat in assists (6.3) and ranks second in scoring (18.0).
"You can bank on what Goran does every night," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told The Miami Herald. "That's why he's an All-Star and one of the best point guards in the league. He's a model of consistency, and he's done it with different kinds of teams and styles."
But while Dragic, 32, is an established pro, McGruder, 27, has been the surprise of the team so far this season. He went undrafted out of Kansas State in 2016 yet started 65 games for the Heat that season, averaging a modest 6.4 points. Last season, he averaged 5.1 points as injuries restricted him to just 18 games, including two starts.
This season, McGruder is third on the team in scoring (15.7) and leads in effective field goal percentage (.651), a statistic that adjusts for the value of three- and two-point shots.
Richardson, 25, a former second-round pick out of Tennessee, leads Miami in scoring (18.7). So far, his scoring has improved every year he has been in the league (6.6, 10.2, 12.9).
Meanwhile, the Knicks are led in scoring by Tim Hardaway Jr. (27.0), the son of the former Heat star guard.
Knicks center Enes Kanter is averaging a double-double (19.0 points, 12.3 rebounds), and point guard Trey Burke leads the team in assists (5.3) and ranks third in scoring (13.3).
Updated October 23, 2018